The adult retail industry has embarked on its lengthy holiday season — starting with Halloween and extending to Valentine’s Day. XBIZ spoke with Camilla Lombard, events and publicity manager for San Franciscobased Good Vibrations, and Martin Walker, director of marketing and visual merchandising for PeeKay Inc., which operates the Lovers, ConRev, and A Touch of Romance stores, for their insider’s view on what’s going to be hot during the holiday season.
Straying from the traditional booth lineup show floor, VENUS employed a unique horseshoe shape surrounding a central lounge that provided attendees, buyers and vendors a comfortable and quiet area to hold meetings and conduct private discussions.
For Halloween, Lombard was enthusiastic about new occasion-specific sex toys: “Devil Horns from Hustler are fun, the SuccuDry from Fleshlight, fun crops (coffin, bat wings) by Ruff Doggie are all thematic fun.”
Walker said he was looking forward to a new line of Halloween costumes from “Girls Next Door” star Bridget Marquardt. “She’s got a pretty nice line of high-end Halloween costumes we’re bringing in,” he said. “We’re pretty excited to see what those do.”
For Christmas, Lombard said Good Vibrations is “looking forward to featuring new items that join technology and functionality. For example, the Duet from Crave Innovations is accessible, discreet, trave- friendly, and their Classic and Wink products are a great example of engineering meeting design.”
Lombard also mentioned “The Big Teaze ornament duckie, holiday scents for Devour Me and Rub Me — our signature bath and body line — and our signature holiday kits which combine various toys, bath and body products, and attractive packaging at great discounts.”
LELO’s new PicoBong line of pleasure objects with a lower price point than LELO’s high-end tariff caught the attention of Walker. “I don’t know if we’re bringing in the full line, but we’re bringing in some of those products.”
For Valentine’s Day, Lombard told XBIZ, “Whether you are partnered or single, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to explore your sensual side.
We are looking forward to the HeartOn Wand from Rocks Off, and our signature kits do very well at this time of year, like our Delicious Delights kit with a red velvet seduction vibe, Devour Me strawberry kiss, Please Liquid lube, and batteries.”
Walker said PeeKay’s lingerie buyers are already selecting products for Valentine’s Day sales. “Lingerie does well on Valentine’s Day, but the overall volume of the store goes up, so we sell more of the other categories as well.”
Particular holiday theming isn’t important to retail buyers, according to Lombard.
“People seem to enjoy themed products, but ultimately it really depends on the product and the price point,” she said. “High-end and tech do well for us but in the end accessibility and function are paramount, and aesthetics are important too.”
“It depends on what it is,” Walker said. “We’ll have a variety of accessories to go with a Halloween outfit, those go pretty well. As far as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, our standard stuff that sells well year-round does even better during those holidays. We focus a lot of our marketing efforts around those three holidays, but one area doesn’t necessarily do any better than the other, other than the costumes, of course, during Halloween.”
Although theming of products isn’t important to consumers, the numbers increase for Halloween and Valentine’s Day, according to Walker.
“We definitely see people that we don’t see yearround,” he said. “Halloween, we definitely have customers who come to us for our Halloween costumes, and our goal is to introduce them to the year-round things that we carry. Every year it gives us an opportunity to introduce some new customers to our stores, because we get an influx of people coming in. The holidays, it doesn’t really change too much from what we normally see. Valentine’s Day, we definitely see a lot more men shopping in our stores, especially on Valentine’s Day. It’s like clockwork. They go straight from us to the florist. And then to Hallmark.”
Lombard agreed that although sales increase for the holidays, the items themselves need not be holiday themed.
“We sell hundreds of these every week, and the holidays are no exception: Hitachi, Blue Venus, Pop Tops, Butterfly Kiss, Silky G,” she said. “People want the best toy for them, and while they may be more open to shopping during the holidays, by the time they are in the store they would rather have a fundamentally great product that works for them than something that is just thematic. And it’s great when we can combine the two.
“We don’t carry lingerie, though we do carry some novelties and pasties. We are a vibrator store first and foremost and we are front of mind when Valentine’s Day comes around. In general we serve mostly women and couples, and with stores in neighborhood destinations and hightraffic tourist spots we get a nice mix of returning, loyal customers and traveling visitors.”
Walker said that the holiday sales increases let PeeKay stores introduce new customers to the company’s promotional programs.
“We have a pretty well-received preferred customer program that we have year-round, and during the holidays we try to have a very compelling preferred-customer offer to make sure that those customers come and visit us at that time. Whatever we incorporate into the preferred customer program is going to do really well for us. That depends in the trends. It changes every year.”
Both Walker and Lombard spoke of decorating their stores for the holidays.
“We definitely dress all our stores according to the holidays,” Walker told XBIZ. “We have a visual merchandising team that goes out and does the window displays and the in-store elements for the three big holidays. They pretty much do it year-round, but we definitely make the displays a little bit bigger and a little bit better for those holidays. We start planning several months out. They usually run six to eight weeks.”
Lombard said that decorating stores for the holidays is part of an ongoing promotional program.
“Good Vibrations offers a variety of themed promotions throughout the year,” she said. “Our displays change about every six weeks and we incorporate holiday themes in an inclusive and festive way that highlight the relevant vendors through signage, product placement, and website placement.
“Our promotions are not limited to major holidays; we also promote our ecorotic line of sustainable products, our waterproof or aqua-erotic toys, bachelorette themed products, and many more. We enjoy rearranging the store to keep the customer’s experience fresh and rotate our featured products, and we do it in a way that is consistent with our mission of offering quality products and sex education. We also hold events to celebrate our customers and to create a fun and inviting atmosphere. These include treats, discounts, live music and personal shoppers.”