opinion

Exotic Appeal

Ariana Rodriguez
American ideals have long encouraged the acceptance of international cultures; and as a consumerist nation, Americans often flock to imported goods as a testament to their progressiveness. Imported goods are often highly regarded as superior, one-of-kind products and U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for them. By infiltrating the U.S. and keeping their foreign identity intact, international adult products manufacturers can position themselves as that hip, exotic sex-toy maker.

Leslie Shwartzer, U.S. director of sales and marketing for Rocks-Off, told XBIZ that the U.K.-based sex toy manufacturer relishes in being an English company, using native slang in product names like Cheeky Boy prostate massager or the Ramsey Rabbit vibe named after British chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay. The company’s signature bullets — the RO-80mm, RO-100mm and RO-120mm — are named according to their size in metric units.

“Being foreign is more attractive,” she said. “It makes us cool, funky and different.”

Shwartzer said she finds manufacturing overseas to be flawless, adding that thanks to an agreement with Fed-Ex, Rocks-Off products are shipped to distributors overnight.

“I believe in using my distributors,” she said. “They get cases of products and they get it quickly. Manufacturing in the U.K. allows us to produce high-quality medical grade silicone products and we oversee the entire process.”

Fellow U.K. manufacturer Nexus Range produces silicone and steel toys for men and women, as well as unisex items. Chloe Pearce, Nexus’ press and marketing officer, said Nexus solved its issue of delayed shipping by establishing a U.S. warehouse.

“It is incredibly useful having the manufacturing plant so close to our head office as we are able to oversee the whole process and ensure that our high standards are being maintained,” she said. “The only downfall is the marginally higher production cost but we stand by the quality of our toys and are willing to pay a little extra.”

The U.S. arm of Rocks-Off officially launched two years ago after a stroke of luck took Shwartzer to the Venus Show in Berlin where she found the Rocks-Off booth.

Shwartzer said she wasn’t looking for a new job but wanted to see Rocks-Off grow, adding that U.S. expansion was necessary to properly distribute additional new products.

FunFactory was established in Bremen, Germany, in 1996, and made its way to the U.S. in 2003.

“How can you not sell in the U.S.A.?” said Rudy Kottbauer, chief marketing officer of FunFactory USA. “That was our main concern and we were well overdue for entering into the U.S. We needed somebody who really knew how to create brand awareness and that was the main reason why we needed to have a subsidiary here.”

Kottbauer and Christian Trinker, CEO of Fun Factory USA, started the U.S. subsidiary in California with the support of its German headquarters.

“We learned very fast how to work the best way independently and had a lot of freedom from our headquarters,” Kottbauer said. “Everything else was Chris and myself, who started the subsidiary from our living room and public storage just learning by doing.”

Nexus Range’s products have been available in the U.S. since 2006 through distributors such as Williams Trading, Entrenue and most recently, East Coast News.

“As the U.K. market is relatively small we were aware from the start that our global profile was extremely important,” Pearce said. “We attend every major trade show in the U.S. and Europe in order to cement existing relationships and introduce our brand personally to new clients — we find that this is key to doing business within this industry.”

International companies offer translated descriptions and instructions with their packaging, as well as translated websites. Nevertheless, Kottbauer noted that recently FunFactory decided to cut back on the amount of product translations, which could be confusing for consumers.

“Over the last couple of years we are influencing our headquarters more and more to adopt a more American approach,” Kottbauer said.

MyWorld Group is a new manufacturer of private label adult products. MyWorld is based in China and headed by Topco Sales founder Martin Tucker, who parted with Topco early this year. MyWorld said it has the best of both worlds — the ability to oversee the manufacturing plant’s operations and a reputation established in the U.S.

Ng noted the personal attention from Tucker, who lives in China and supervises the factory everyday.

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