The European trade show market has been split in two in a move similar to that which toy manufacturers, retailers and buyers already have experienced in the U.S. With the longrunning VENUS show taking place alongside B2B-focused newcomer eroFame, each show made sure to leave a distinct impression on attendees. This year’s VENUS Intimate trade event did exactly that for the boutique pleasure brands leading the way in adult product innovation.
Straying from the traditional booth lineup show floor, VENUS employed a unique horseshoe shape surrounding a central lounge that provided attendees, buyers and vendors a comfortable and quiet area to hold meetings and conduct private discussions.
Walking into the show almost felt as though you were waltzing through an enormous luxury sex toy boutique, with each booth being its own section of the ‘store’.
“We had a constant influx of clients finding their way to our booth, where we could show off new products to new clients, write up orders and engage in the exchanging of ideas,” said Memo Vega of German high-end sex toy designer Fun Factory. “Our layout permitted us to hold several simultaneous meetings with speakers of different languages presiding over their own area of the booth, allowing for people of all cultures to speak to someone fluent in their native language.”
The booths themselves, void of the piped-and-draped tables often associated with adult trade fairs, were open and easily accessible, allowing each brand creative space to showcase its products similarly to how they’d be displayed within an adult retail shop. This, many vendors said, was key to the show’s success.
“Walking into the show almost felt as though you were waltzing through an enormous luxury sex toy boutique, with each booth being its own section of the ‘store,’” said Alicia Relles, North American sales and marketing manager for boutique pleasure product designer Je Joue. “This made it possible to meet with every key buyer on our list without the rushed booth-side clamor that vendors often experience at traditional trade shows.”
The central lounge, complete with green plants, leather furniture and refreshments, was filled with a who’s-who from the adult retail market in the U.S. and abroad, including boutique product distributor Entrenue; top customers from Japan, South America, Europe and the U.S.; and even top-selling sex author Tracy Cox.
This year marked VENUS’s first run of educational seminars, featuring Good Vibrations’ Carol Queen, top education-based retailers from Europe and the U.K., and the designers behind the world’s innovative intimate product brands — including Fun Factory, Je Joue, Njoy and OhMiBod.
Relevant topics discussed included the changing retail market and adjusting store space to be more female- and couples-focused; maintaining product value while preventing heavy mass-retail discounting; and how European retailers can catch up to and learn from the sex-positive educational movement currently being led by the U.S. retail market.
This year’s annual VENUS Awards were supplemented by a cocktail party hosted by Je Joue in a 17th-century Berlin manor house with a veranda that allowed partygoers to enjoy Berlin’s unusually warm 90-degree Indian Summer.
The party was attended by sex toy designers, retailers and sex educators, including Cox, Queen, Lisa Mazurek of Entrenue, and the buyers from Babeland and Pink Cherry.
“This was a real coming of age for Je Joue,” Relles said. “We showed our new seven-toy-strong range with redesigned packaging, new point-of-sale displays, and even came home with VENUS’ Best Design Innovation Award. That was the icing on the cake!”