Power Branding

Tod Hunter

It started with a bullet vibrator. The original Power Bullet vibrator caused a sensation when it came out in 2005. Silver colored, with a small rubber button on one end, the two-inch vibrator was waterproof, operated on watch batteries, and had enough vibration power to wiggle itself out of an open hand.

“There are women who have been using vibrators for some time and they’re demanding more power in products,” BMS Enterprises president and founder Steve Bannister told XBIZ. “I had to create a brand, so when the customer walks into the store the retailer can say if you buy this product — you see the logo on there — that assures you that that product has some serious power to it.”

I feel with the new Vanity we’ve reinvented the vibrator, and there’s a lot more interesting things coming.

The success of the original Power Bullet vibrator led to an expansion of the line with several models including longer “Executive” models, pendants and a 12-inch monster powered by eight C batteries before Bannister elected to separate out the technology that powered the vibrator and build a brand around it.

“It evolved from a simple little bullet that had a button on it to a technology that we put inside products,” Bannister said. “It’s like ‘Intel’ on a computer. When you see Intel on a computer your heart feels good because it’s reliable and it’s powerful. My goal is to brand Power Bullet so that retailers know how to direct the customer, instead of searching around. When they see the word Power Bullet they just know that product is going to be powerful. The consumer doesn’t even have to try it, they just know that we’ve maxed out what that product can do.”

Bannister has gone on to offer Power Bullet technology to other manufacturers, building custom vibrating motors for their products.

“Power Bullet is a technology that puts power in other people’s products. If someone brings me a basic vibrator and they can’t get the thing to really rock, we’ll take it, make a sample, and say ‘Try that.’ They’ll go ‘Oh my God, that’s some serious power.’ That’s what Power Bullet technology is,” Bannister said. “It’s not an actual product, it’s the technology that goes in there. We can put it into anybody’s product. Our goal is to have a lot of manufacturers coming to us, saying ‘We like what you do, you make the highest quality product with the most power.’ We want them on our doorstep.”

One of the companies that has been impressed by Power Bullet is California Exotic Novelties.

“The power is amazing for the size,” California Exotic Novelties Director of Marketing Al Bloom told XBIZ. “I’m not that technical but I know that the components in the motors are a little bit more costly in such small products, but I think that the people who are getting used to the Power Bullet logo on things are understanding why they’re paying a couple of bucks more for a small item, for the sheer intensity of these things. They’re the most intense vibrating motors I’ve ever seen. They’ve come up with something special and it’s going to take a while for anybody to duplicate it.”

Jopen, a partnership between California Exotic Novelties and BMS, is offering the newest products to use Power Bullet technology in Jopen’s Vanity line. The line was developed and tested for more than a year, going through more than 50 different prototypes. The Vanity line has been positioned as an upscale luxury product line, with MSRPs in the $140–$240 range. The 12 different models, named Vr1 through Vr12, are encased in seamless purple silicone and each item has dual motors. The understated white packaging carries the “Powered by Power Bullet” slogan, as does the advertising.

“They’re very intense, especially in the smaller units,” Bloom said. “If a user accelerates it all the way to the top speed ... It’s going to satisfy everybody that’s ever wanted a vibrator before, beyond reason.”

The Vanity line is sold exclusively in North America. The products are available outside North America under the brand name Swan.

Power Bullet items are manufactured exclusively in a dedicated factory in China that was opened in 2005. The factory first employed 20 people, and has since grown to more than 200 employees.

“Their quality control seems to be really great, and they have power and longevity,” Bloom said. “They’re also pretty quiet for the power that they put out. Some of the smaller ones, the size of a AAA battery themselves, use watch batteries, but the bigger ones use standard AAA batteries. That’s a real advantage for the consumer, not having to mess with watch batteries.”

Bannister’s background in the adult industry is in retail: “I started off in retail. I have 11 stores. Then I went into distribution in Canada. We kept that going for 18 years, until the last couple of years got a little stagnant, and then I stumbled into manufacturing. I have a passion for it.”

The 100 percent Canadian-owned BMS Enterprises, which started with the Aren’t We Naughty retail store in Brampton, Ontario, is now headquartered in an industrial office building, showroom and warehouse in Brampton. The distribution company offers retailers a 300-page catalogue of products ranging from dice games and party supplies to lubes, vibrators and leather goods from a number of manufacturers. The company also owns the Aren’t We Naughty chain of retail stores as well as an online store.

The redefinition of Power Bullet as a technology brand is working for California Exotic Novelties, according to Bloom.

“They’re branding themselves, and we recognize that branding as kind of the Intel of the adult novelty business,” Bloom said. “They’re trying to supply the technology that they developed with the Power Bullet to folks such as us, who use bullets as components with a lot of our products. We’ve re-branded some of them as our high intensity bullets, we’re bringing them out in multiple sizes, and with jewels on them. They’re going to be the Intel of the industry.”

Bannister told XBIZ that he plans to continue to innovate, working with manufacturers to build the Power Bullet technology into their products.

“I feel with the new Vanity we’ve reinvented the vibrator, and there’s a lot more interesting things coming,” Bannister said. “It all boils down to engineering, which we invest in. I feel like we’re the Apple of the industry, because we have new technologies nobody’s ever seen before. I have something sitting on my desk that’s real cool. Never been seen before, and I can’t wait to release that. I’ll show it to the people who support us and give our factory business. They’re the expert marketers, I want to be the expert manufacturer.”