Making a Display of Yourself

Peter Smith
Legend has it that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. In the world of adult retail, the same essential rule applies. The question for manufacturers, studios, and of course the brick-and-mortar foundation, is how to do the leading. How to get two-legged consumers — with untold amounts of shiny, attractive product to choose from — to guzzle up your company’s urge quenching product.

It’s not easy to catch the eye of the potential buyer, and creative retail displays have never been more crucial, particularly with the ever-increasing specter of online sex shopping. Attracting attention is key, and, unlike the Internet, one is dealing with a static amount of physical square footage. How to make the most of limited shelf space and promote product in an instantly integratable way is the question; the latest answer for many companies is pre-stocked displays coming from the manufacturer that link the basic product with the unique brand.

Veteran international lubricant concern Pjur Group USA offers its lines of My and Analyse Me products on a moveable wall display that is both brand specific and modular, and thus can be molded to the retailers needs.

“It allows our brand to be seen in total. It completes the look and feel of who we are,” says Pjur CEO Richard Harris, who says that sales have increased some 30 percent with the innovation. “Who can present a product the best? It is usually the creators, if given the chance.”

So exactly how does the unit work?

“It can be attached to a wall, it works as a end cap, it can free stand and wheels can attach and lock so it can be moved around as the retailer changes their store set or updates their look,” reveals Harris. The crucial element is the morphing ability.

“That’s right,” he continues. “Each shelf has insert pieces that move to accommodate a large or small size bottle, and shelves can be removed and hooks put in place to hang different items.” Pjur also designs stock options for clients’ needs. “Some are set up with more female products and others with less. Some with lower priced items and some with all price points. It makes it easy for the retailer and easy for the customer.”

Though the adult industry is known for technological innovations far ahead of the mainstream world, Harris admits that this design was actually born the other way around.

“Drug stores like Walgreen’s have been doing it for years. In adult it is new and sometimes new takes time to catch on, plus the cost for some is too high and the mix that some companies put together is not right for every store. It makes sense to have some choice and flexibility, especially in our industry.”

It also helps to have a keen eye, as does Laurie Bergquist, vice president of Spartacus Leathers; her mission was to offer a variety of whips, floggers and other such specialized fare in an exciting way. Her vision arrived some seven years ago.

“One day, I was visiting our retail store,” she recalls. “I noticed this empty spinner rack in the storage room, and it just clicked. It was the perfect size for our nipple clamps. In 2001 we launched our first point of sale spinner rack. Now, less than 10 years later, we have a separate catalog devoted to POS solutions. For buyers unfamiliar with the type of product we make, being able to order a complete display makes perfect sense.”

The family-owned manufacturing company was founded in 1987, back when it was catering to a fairly small niche market of leather fun seekers and S&M aficionados. Since then, “the industry has changed drastically,” she says. “As cultural sexual taboos have been lifted, Spartacus merchandise has become more and more popular with the general public.” Part of that snowball experience is due to the what-you-see factor. Like Pjur’s Harris, she acknowledges the mainstream influence.

“The general manufacturing industry has been selling pre-arranged displays for years, but, for some reason, the concept hasn’t been popular in the adult novelty sector. I think that there’s sort of a domino effect. Once one company distributes a display that’s effective and attractive, buyers start asking for similar arrangements from other companies as well.”

The benefit to retailers and manufacturers is clearly win-win. As not every store clerk can be an expert in every product line (though retailers in recent years have certainly upped the knowledge ante of their staff with prodigious, highly effective training), the displays from the source can aid that function, thus increasing both parties’ bottom lines.

“When a store devotes retail space to Spartacus displays and items, it sends a message to the consumer that the retailer recommends the brand,” says Bergquist. “Also, it emphasizes the Spartacus name, creating brand recognition and loyalty. In general, consumers are far more likely to buy from a manufacturer whose logo and name they recognize.”

Another one-stop plus with pre-configured mountings is the ease with which shoppers can obtain a comprehensive viewing of theme product.

“Our floor spinner makes it really easy for the consumer to stock up on our items without having to go to different sections of the store,” emphasizes Bergquist. Customers can see the products interact in ways they might not if items were scattered in different sections. How about a matching cock ring to go with my nipple clamps? Or maybe someone wants to try a certain blindfold with a special ball gag for a new sensational experience.”

The relatively new visual sensation of Blu-ray created a selling hurdle that venerable company Anabolic has met head on with a singular marketing display idea.

“A complaint that customers were having was buying or renting a Blu-ray disc and not knowing they needed a Blu-ray player,” says Dan M., general manager at the company.

“We didn’t want to leave any reason for a customer to say they couldn’t buy Blu-ray.” The answer? Pre-stocked displays that afforded built-in shelf space, complete with an educational, eye-grabbing poster.

“In talking with our customers and distributors and store chains, we realized that one of the issues in not being able to effectively sell Blu-ray product on a retail end was the fact that here was no way to really organize the product on the store shelves,” reveals Dan M. “The only thing that stores were able to use to sell product was signage that they created internally. We crafted two types of displays, one a counter top, and another that goes right into the wall, and an informational poster that describes the product itself, and why Blu-ray is better.”

With 14 Blu-ray titles out now ranging from specialty lines such as alt-porn, Latin, MILF, big boob, and big booty, Dan M. says that “re-orders are coming in. It’s working very well and people are picking up the product.”

Arguably a pioneer in the spinner rack arena is Elegant Angel. Plagued by lack of brick and mortar shelf space and the desire to broaden product confidence, the longtime porn concern launched such a rack early last year.

“We wanted something that was durable and easy to use, and it’s been really huge for us,” says Elegant Angel general manager Graham Travis. “It’s been an opportunity to get good coverage in the stores. We put on it our newest, best looking titles, usually 56 titles, three deep. It shows off the front covers really nicely, and it’s great to browse. Retailers have been very excited by it.”

While trend-setting display tactics are making profitable inroads toward enhancing sales to an ever-jaded consumer base, it’s apparently a job that never ends.

“I think the pressure is on to be even more innovative in self promotion,” states Travis. “The challenge is there for studios and manufacturers to be as creative and as unique as possible as far as presenting product, because customers have seen it all, and retailers have seen it all.”


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