The publicized “green” movement currently manifests itself in the sex toy market with the rise of reusable, rechargeable vibrators and eco-friendly packaging.
“Our recent release of two Solar Powered bullets, and in packaging that complies with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, we are continuing to find ways to meet the ecological challenges facing us today,” said Al Bloom, CalExotics’ director of marketing, “the ultimate grasp of these efforts by the consuming public will be the final arbiter of how much further we take this. Right now, sales look very good, so the message is working.”
Laura Sweet, of adult distributor Honey’s Place, told XBIZ that the eco-friendly trend carries into avoiding harmful toxicity levels of materials being used in sex toys.
“While there are not any real notable cases of anyone having a toxicity issue with their vibrator or adult toy, people are becoming more and more aware of toxins in everything — make-up, baby bottles, plastic…everything — so, of course the adult toy market has to follow suit to remain competitive,” Sweet said. “The world in general is becoming more ‘green’ on all levels and this is part of that trend. Silicone, being one of the safest materials for intimate use, is growing in terms of popularity.”
Bloom concurs, saying that CalExotics has shifted almost 100 percent to what it calls “safe and pure materials,” including silicone, TPR, TPE and phthalate-free PVC.
The Screaming O, a manufacturer known for its line of disposable vibrating cock rings, recently released a “throw back” item of sorts with the nonvibrating Ojoy ring.
“The Ojoy is washable and reusable and made of high grade quality silicone,” The Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano said; noting that the company’s use of silicone is not something that was recently enforced.
“The original Screaming O Vibrating Ring has always been made of high-grade silicone — in fact all of our products are silicone or made of food-grade quality silicone gel,” Caggianos said. “The Screaming O’s goal is to make affordable and effective products without skimping on quality.”
Caggiano also took a moment to clear a misconception about the company’ line of products.
“Even though we’re known for our fun disposable rings, the truth is two-thirds of our collection is reusable with replaceable batteries,” he said. “As the industry knows, The Screaming O likes to feature a wide variety of items; it’s been our business model to make fun tools and toys for couples, regardless of whether or not they are disposable.
“And yes we are expanding our range and scope of replaceable items with the new Carnal Carnival Collection of thrillseeking rings, guaranteed to turn your body into an amusement park. Stay tuned.”
Bondage gear also is following the body-friendly trend. XR LLC, an adult manufacturer, distributor and retailer of specialty products, recently announced the release of the Bon-4 Silicone Male Chastity Device. Bethany Brown, the company’s wholesale administrator also noted other fetish products are being released in silicone, including enemas and anal catheters.
“Pretty much anything that touches your body or is inserted in your mouth (ball gag) or anywhere else for that matter falls into that category,” Sweet said. “So, for the retail client shopping for ‘clean and environment friendly’ products they are available in the adult toy market everywhere.”
According to Sweet, the entire adult industry has been shifting to more mainstream over the years, opening the doors to sex toys sharing retail space with mainstream-friendly products.
“KY is a great example,” Sweet said. “They have lube commercials all over TV. They are now selling vibrating cock rings and finger vibes right alongside of Trojan at the corner drugstore. Having said that, the softening up of product shape as well as the new bright colors supports that mainstream trend.
“Adult toys in fun colors and shapes just like children’s toys, obviously for different purposes. But let’s face it... it is a toy. It does appeal to the fun and playful side of each user. If it’s not penis shaped and flesh color it takes away the taboo of the naughty adult toy.”
Ironically, the laws in states that don’t allow adult toys to be sold have also helped support this trend, Sweet added. “Their guidelines defined an adult toy as phallic-shaped and flesh-toned. So, the manufacturers make them in different shapes and colors, labeled them ‘massagers’ instead of ‘vibrators’ and viola — toys that can be sold legally in a state that does not allow them.”
Bloom said that as far as CalExotics products are concerned, the company’s production of items with varying designs is simply part of the company’s mission.
“While a good portion of our sales are with penis shaped items, we have always been careful to keep a balance in our overall line,” he said
Sweet said the mainstreaming of sex toys also has affected their packaging, as current trends call for images that remain neutral in terms of gender and sexuality.
“The stores these items are purchased in, becoming more and more mainstream, are consistently merchandised in a ‘boutique’ style setting allowing the women to feel more comfortable shopping there,” Sweet said. “This includes websites. As a result, the packaging has to fit into that environment. The high-end, collectible and storage type package is what women want. This purchase is just like any other — women want to feel good about it and take care of it so it takes good care of them.”
Bloom said that CalExotics respects every sector of the industry and thus packaging is designed to cater to a wide variety.
“We are not going to forget where we came from and who supported us during our growth,” Bloom said. “As long as the adult shops around the world are still in business, we will continue to include the images of girls and/or couples on a certain percentage of new items we produce. That being said, we are also aware that mainstream shops and websites appeal to a different demographic, and for that reason we have created some really sexy, image-free packaging that gives needed information in a soft, sensual, appealing way.”
Additionally, Brown also discussed pop culture’s effect on the BDSM front. “BDSM has evolved in so many ways, you can see its influence all over the place these days; in music, art, cultural lifestyles, fashion, and of course, sexual arousal,” Brown said. “Go to any punk, metal, or rock concert and you’ll see a showcase of spiked leather, metal studded belts, wrist bands, collars, chains and interesting piercings that you know had to hurt! Retro pinups, rockabilly, and burlesque fashions are very popular right now with the ladies, which walks hand in hand tight corsets, sleek vinyl, tall heels and dark but vibrant make-up.
“The subtle changes to the presentation of kink include a friendlier approach that has opened the market to everyone else to come play too! Packaging featuring soft colors and images of loving couples, displays where you can find attractive leather cock rings next to pink vibrating nipple clamps without the initial impression of whips, chains and torture devices are becoming more and more acceptable to the public.”