For an industry based on intimacy, romance is often the muse behind the design and marketing of pleasure products. Although romantic gifts are exchanged throughout the year, Valentine’s Day holiday is a commercially monumental annual event.
With so many options for romantic and sensual gifts, iconic San Francisco-based retail chain Good Vibrations has devised a range of guides to steer its shoppers. The guides narrow searches by price range and product categories such as lovers’ kits, earth-friendly erotic items and education focused goods.
“Our website has products for everyone, which speaks to the versatility of our high-quality toys as well as to the diversity of shoppers’ sexuality,” said Camilla Lombard, Good Vibes’ events and publicity manager. “We host several Good Vibrations Shopping Guides because they are a great way to help shoppers narrow in on toys to buy, or inspire them to browse more selections. The shoppers who visit GoodVibes.com buy toys for themselves as well as gifts for loved ones, so the theme ‘Indulge Yourself … or someone else,’ fits for the Valentine’s Day guides as much as it does our website year-round.
“As always, our friendly customer service staff offers a sex-educated personal shopping experience via live chat, phone or email to help customers pick the perfect gift. We spend a fair amount of time organizing the guides, and some of them are based on other existing guides that we already provide for our shoppers but we make sure to include more Valentine’sthemed items.”
Adult retailers often have the guidance of distributors at their disposal. Distributors such as Eldorado and Williams Trading release an annual catalog dedicated to Valentine’s Day bestsellers.
“Sexy lingerie is always a hot seller for Valentine’s Day and makes for the perfect cross-promotion or up-sell for just about anything else in your store,” Eldorado’s Brian Sofer said. “Products that enhance and liven up foreplay are also must-haves for the season. Romance games, edibles, body toppings, love coupons, massage oils, candles and setting the mood kits are always strong performers for our customers.”
According to Sofer, when selecting items for Eldorado’s Valentine’s Day brochure, the company leans toward the romance and couples items that are proven bestsellers and have the greatest chance of increasing sales.
“Providing customers a wide variety of products that can be promoted interchangeably is the key to a successful Valentine’s Day season,” Sofer said. "Remember to combine your displays with complementary items and products. Design a display to incorporate lingerie, massage oil, playful sex toys and body toppings. Mix and match, upsell and cross promote to make the most of this profitable season.”
Williams Trading marketing coordinator Kelly Szwed said that the company’s latest Valentine’s Day catalog is the largest one to date with more than 130 items to choose from.
“Since Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that evoke the feelings of love and closeness we wanted to choose items that will really bring couples together,” Szwed said. “I mean that literally and figuratively. The overriding theme of the holiday is red and pink so we focused on items that are of those two colors. Lingerie is a big seller for this holiday as well so we wanted to include sexy pieces as well as something for the guys so they feel special too.
“Games are essential because it is a way for couples to explore fantasies and desires in a safe environment. Sensual products like bath gels, candles, massage oils are also big sellers for intimacy building. And of course the regular fare, vibrators, dildos, cock rings and anal plugs find their way into the catalog for obvious reasons; couples like to explore new things. Furry handcuffs, blindfolds, feather ticklers, bondage tape and paddles all bring a new level of excitement and intimacy to the bedroom. Those are many of the selections we chose to feature this year in our never ending quest to bring the people what they want.”
Kheper Games offers a full range of romantic games and novelties.
“Among our bestsellers for the Valentines season are Fantasy Affairs, whatever your secret fantasies are or can become, Fantasy Affairs offers you a safe, creative and sexually satisfying way to embrace them with your lover; 1000 Sex Games, a 1000 Sex Games combines rounds of foreplay, passionate lovemaking and sexy plot twists; Sex! Board Game, you earn sex positions by correctly answering sex trivia questions, then you and your lover win when you complete and carry out a fantasy of six sex positions,” Kheper Games sales manager Roxana Forenza said. “One of our old time favorites is our Fleur de Amour, you peel back the petals to reveal a sensual foreplay activity.”
Sportsheets recently introduced the XOXO2U line of romance-inspired eye masks, teasing accessories and games made to enhance couples intimacy and communication through fun and easy-to-use items, said Joanne Queenin, Sportsheets’ marketing assistant.
“Although XOXO2U is perfect for Valentine’s Day, its packaging and promotion materials are void of mention of the holiday so sales can happen all yearround,” Queenin said.
“The XOXO2U romance inspired line offers a complete variety of products to bolster any retail outlet’s novelty department,” she said. “It’s quick and easy and is a good purchase for the ladies. XOXO2U also features a low price point and point-of-purchasefriendly packaging that promotes impulse purchases. The Tickle Me Wild is such a great idea and makes a cute gift!”
Hott Products’ Chris Post said that the ideal romantic gift leads to a “hot night of erotic play” and is often purchased last minute.
“Hott Products has some offerings that are sure to spark things up,” Post said. ”From the Romantic Rose Play Vibe, a playful realistic looking stemmed rose that is made out of super soft silicone with its vibrating rose pedal head. It comes in a traditional romantic themed box. Also on the table of offerings is the Erotic Rose multi-speed soft silicone G-spot vibe.”
Among the most popular selection of adult products are sensual lotions and potions to amplify partner play on that fateful night.
“As the romance category leader, Kama Sutra always looks forward to bringing couples together during Valentine’s Day promoting romance between loving couples,” said Robert La Joie, Kama Sutra’ senior director, U.S. sales. ”We pride ourselves with high-quality, beautifully packaged products all made in the USA. Retailers appreciate the Kama Sutra brand within their stores as it is a destination point for many of their customers. This is easily seen and demonstrated in our Sweet Heart Boxes and Cupid’s Collection gift sets. We are dedicated to continue to meet our customer’s needs and requests by bringing to market value and quality foremost.”
According to Angela Mustone, business development director for Shunga Erotic Art, while the company’s kits such as the Tenderness & Passion collection and Geisha’s Secrets collection are popular romantic gifts for couples, Shunga’s Divine Oral Pleasure Gloss is still a bestseller.
“This product is by far one of my favorites from Shunga,” she said. “It adds a very exciting tingly effect to oral sex, pumps up your lips nicely, and you can slip it in your purse like any other lip gloss!”
Australia-based Sensuous said that the key to Valentine’s Day retail success is offering products that are complementary to non-adult romantic gifts.
“The Sensuous range is extremely couple-friendly and many of our products sit very comfortably with those red roses or bottle of champagne,” Sensuous’ Keith Jones said. “Particularly romantic is our Deluxe Body Chocolate, with three delicious flavors to choose from. Use the little brush to write love messages on your partner and then … well who knows where your artistic talents will take you. Another of our great romance products is Sweet Touch, our irresistible warming and Kissable Massage oils. With five enchanting flavors to choose from there is one for everyone. If you really want to spoil your lover then why not try one of our fabulous gift boxes. There are two to choose from, Escape and Chocolate Romance — both crammed with delicious Sensuous products and filled to the brim with sexy silk rose petals.”