opinion

Details Matter: Manufacturers Bank on Fresh Designs

Scott Ross

The adult novelty industry is, from all accounts, a saturated marketplace that requires every manufacturer to stay on top of the latest trends while trying to forge ahead in a constant attempt to gain even the slightest advantage on their competitors.

This year that translates into new variations of pink and purple, the perennial bestselling colors for women’s novelties, and new types of silicone materials. However, it is the adeptness with which the industry has embraced the Internet as a medium to communicate their brand messages directly to retailers and consumers that is perhaps the most important development of the year.

A vibrator is a vibrator, unless of course the vibrator has a story attached to it. Then it becomes more. — Chad Braverman, Doc Johnson

Whether it be posting new items on Twitter or building a company website that includes multimedia offerings that flesh out product themes, the novelty industry has gone digital.

The incredible popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” book featuring a young woman who enters a BDSM relationship has gotten the novelty world buzzing with excitement.

“The first book in the series has struck a chord with women all over the world,” Susan Colvin, founder of Cal Exotics, said. “It has introduced newcomers to the amazing world of sex toys that can be compared to that watershed moment when they showed the rabbit vibe on ‘Sex and the City.’”

Of course, when it comes to adult novelties, it’s not grey but pink and purple that reign supreme, a status those colors will likely always enjoy. But there’s always room for a new a variant of the standards.

JOPEN created a unique pink-purple blend for its Vanity line, appropriately dubbed “Vanity-Fuchsia,” that has been well received by women according to Jackie White, JOPEN’s vice president of sales.

“So while pink may never completely go out of style, variations of pink and purple will always be introduced to the market,” White told XBIZ.

However, manufacturers have to keep in mind that the materials they use might change the look of a color. Jon Lin, global sales manager at Extase, cautions that pink doesn’t work as well with some types of silicone products. “Some silicone pink colors appears to be too fleshylooking and it’s a turn-off to some,” Lin said.

The solution at Extase, which plans on revealing a new silicone material at ANME, is magenta. “Magenta and Purple seem to do the best for both male and female products,” Lin noted.

And speaking of silicone, the non-porous, phthalate-free material continues to enjoy popularity amongst adult novelty manufacturers. Why?

“It is simply the best material in the world,” explained Doc Johnson COO Chad Braverman. “It’s getting easier to work with on a manufacturing level and is becoming a lot more price-competitive.” With that in mind, Doc Johnson is expanding its existing silicone product lines such as their sleek Platinum Silicone collection.

Classic Erotica is excited about a new type of body massage gel they are introducing in their Heart’s Desire Gel Together Massage Gel. The gel melts at body temperature, meaning that it literally melts in your hand. “It liquefies to sensual oil with each loving touch, which allows for the benefits of an oil massage without the mess,” Classic Erotica Marketing Coordinator Cassandra Kirkley said.

The Internet isn’t just a place for adult video producers to repurpose their movies as Internet “content” for an additional revenue stream. It’s become an important medium for marketing adult novelties because even though mainstream magazines and television shows occasionally cover adult novelty products, those opportunities aren’t as plentiful as those that exist online. The ways that adult novelty companies develop their online presence is as varied as the range of adult novelty products that they produce.

Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are favorites within the adult novelty community, although care must be taken to keep risqué content away from minors. Kevin Johnson, public relations manager at Pipedream Products, observes that his company maintains a presence on all of the popular social media sites.

“We make something for just about every lifestyle so we try to post content that will interest the wide range of people who follow us in the new media age,” Johnson said, noting that the content posted varies from site to site, in part for variety, but also because of different standards these sites have. “As a general rule, Facebook is PG-13, Twitter is NC-17 and Tumblr dips into the X-rated territory.”

The Screaming O uses Facebook and Twitter to make the most of their “real world” marketing events, posting photos from ladies nights, in-store events, Screaming O Stage Shows and a variety of mainstream parties and festivals they co-sponsor.

“We never post anything that might be deemed inappropriate to younger viewers,” Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano said. “The Screaming O is as socially sensible as we are creatively conscious and as our reputation online has grown, so has our awareness of the power of the Internet.”

Another approach is to build your own community. Earlier this year CalExotics introduced Club-CalExotics.com, an online community that provides a platform for people to discuss products, sexuality, sexual wellness, and more, in a sharing and caring environment. Videos and podcasts featuring CalExotics resident sexperts, Ryan and Jessica, are among the sites most popular features.

Doc Johnson has taken the same concept of content-rich multimedia website in a different direction. Their new Wonderland line of silicone vibes is inspired by “Alice in Wonderland.” The line’s vibes each represent a different character from the book, a theme that is evident in the design of the vibes, as well as their packaging, and the Wonderland page on DocJohnson.com, which hosts videos that highlight the fantasy aspect of the theme. “We’ve truly embraced the art of telling a story and marketing a product around a fully-realized theme, not just around how many functions it has,” Braverman said, noting that in a saturated marketplace, “a vibrator is a vibrator, unless of course the vibrator has a story attached to it. Then it becomes more.”

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