Bare Necessities

Dan Cameron
Dennis Paradise has a bold prediction: By the end of the year, he expects to see big box retailers like grocery and drug stores selling sex toys. That’s right, the shelves at Target and Walmart may soon be getting a little more risqué, thanks in part to the bottom line — but also due to a more comfortable consumer. If the prediction holds true, the adult industry can thank a fastgrowing segment for helping to ease the transition: Companies specializing in personal care items with a sexy twist have helped society grow increasingly more secure with its sexuality.

“We are the milk, eggs and baby diapers of sexual products. Everybody needs them, everybody buys them — and when they buy them and use them, they got to come back and buy more. It’s just that simple,” says Paradise, president and CEO of Paradise Marketing. While the 33-year-old marketing and distribution company is best known for offering the topname condoms and lubricants, it’s also found big success carrying other items like Summer’s Eve douches and Fleet enemas — including a popular new natural, drug-free product. “A lot of people that are buying enema products are doing it electively as either a pre-sex or post-sex routine, which is why adult stores need it.”

And once consumers are in the store, that necessity purchase may lead to something a little harder: “When the consumer knows that that local adult store has what they want and they can run in there and get that quickly, then stop to look at that store. So it’s the bottle of Astroglide or the 12-pack of condoms that brings them in, but maybe while they’re there they buy a DVD or a vibrator. We’re the traffic driver. The store that’s not well merchandised is not maximizing the store traffic.”

Intimate Organics was created in 2008 to meet the adult industry demand for healthy products. The line is targeted to anyone that wants to create an intimate setting with massage oils or creams but wants to avoid DEA and Paraben. The company does particularly well with its massage oils featuring cocoa bean and goji berries.

“We are geared toward couples and boutique stores, which do very well with us. It is the hardcore retailers that have a hard time bringing in quality and ‘soft’ products,” says Rebecca Powley, director of business development. “I don’t think it will lead someone to harder products, but it does help increase sales for retailers who may have someone come into their stores to purchase a gift and then second-guess themselves as they may change their minds about what is and what is not appropriate for a gift.”

And it helps if the packaging is conscious of quality. Keeping the mainstream market in mind, BMS Factory (known for its line of PowerBullet vibrating massagers) houses its Ultimate Personal Shaver in a clean package suitable for pharmacy or department store shelves. “We’re excited to see that personal grooming products are becoming more mainstream. The Ultimate Personal Shaver finally has the ability to escape its limited exposure and break into new markets with this impulsive demand for healthy grooming,” says April Ramhit, BMS media contact. “It’s continuously being improved, adding new trimmer and packaging designs coming in the 2011 relaunch. We hope to achieve a more mainstream environment with our new packaging and are excited to have it available at any retail location where cosmetic and personal care products are sold.”

Eau Zone’s Director of Business Development, Angela Mustone, said Shunga products’ main market is specialized adult boutiques.

“The mainstream market does not fit the image of our brand, and since cosmetic needs to be explained, it has a better fit in specialized boutiques where the staff is trained and can give good advice to the consumers,” Mustone said. “In Europe, things are a little bit different. We are currently seeing quite a change within the adult product market — especially within the United States, where most traditional sex shops are catering more to couples. The trend now is either mega adult stores or boutique-style shops that have more and more women consumers, which is a perfect fit for us. Good taste is now the path to follow. “

And it s following people into their homes, where consumers and budding businesswomen have helped grow the romantic homeparty industry by leaps and bounds. Kim Airs, director of brand development for Brown Bag Party, noticed a huge upswing in the business when the economy slid. “So many people are looking for additional income, and a business they can create on their own,” says Airs, who has worked in various parts of the industry for 17 years. “A lot of the companies — manufacturers and distributors — feel that the biggest growth area right now is the home party business.”

Led by independent reps throughout the country, the parties are popular with heterosexual couples looking for a way to spice things up. While Brown Bag has a wide range of products that cover every comfort level, Airs notes that its spa and massage products do exceptionally well — and eventually open the door to more adventurous purchases.

“You can open the door with a peek,” Airs said. “The parties are all different depending on the hostess. A lot of reps can gauge it according to the attendants. Being in a home party environment might be more comfortable for somebody to ask questions.”