opinion

Topical Sexual Enhancers: Pleasure Products' Hot Topic

Bob Johnson

Although topical enhancement is the new “hot topic” in the pleasure products world, the sex jazzers have been a mainstay in the industry for nearly three decades.

So what’s all the noise about, and where is the market headed?

We find that people stick with the topical products for a few months until they start to feel adventurous then they often move on to pills, which can give longer lasting and more impressive benefits. -Louise Boote Managing Director Planet Earth.

Like all pleasure products, new, different and better are the hallmarks of the business and are often driven by consumer demands. And it’s not just 20-somethings looking to bolster their sex lives. Middle-aged couples of all genders, divorcées and even seniors are seeking out the magic elixirs that’ll add some spark.

Enhancement manufacturer Classic Erotica says it was ahead of the current curve when it debuted its first flavored topical enhancement product — Cleopatra’s Secret Female Arousal Crème — a product that answered home party customers appeal for something to supply a “jump start” to heighten their sexual experiences.

And now, company vice president of marketing Jane Liszewski, and marketing and branding executive Cass Kirkley say interest in topical enhancers is only on the rise.

“We have seen the popularity of topical enhancers definitely increase within in the last few years. This increase can be attributed to many things. The stigma surrounding sex related topics in the United States has been decreasing every year. The conversation on sex and how to make it better is now seen everywhere: talk shows, radio, scripted television shows, blogs, etc. Pop culture and the mainstream audience are now saturated with not only the idea of ‘sex sells’ but also the general consensus that there are unlimited ways to have sex, and along with that, unlimited sex-related challenges,” the team says.

As little as 15 years ago, according to the executives, a person couldn’t simply Google a sex related issue and have possible solutions instantly pop up with links to six different topical creams that could easily be purchased on any number of online retailers. “In 2013, that is the reality, and the popularity of these items has increased as a result,” the duo says.

Today’s products come in many forms such as creams, sprays, oils, and gels. Most topical enhancers produce fast-acting results and are absorbed into the body much faster than pills. What’s more, they’re designed to help increase male or female sexual arousal, assist in the increase of blood flow, and provide support in intensifying an orgasm and maintaining male erection. Some men’s products will act to either sexually excite the penis or temporarily assist in premature ejaculation.

But how good they perform depends on the ingredient formulation and the individual results.

London-based Planet Earth’s managing director Louise Boote says that the majority of topical enhancement creams use menthol or peppermint oil, both of which are fast absorbing and create a cooling sensation wherever applied. Not only are these ingredients effective, they are also natural, which is why a lot of adult brands prefer them, primarily because they don’t conflict with medications. Other ingredients to stimulate blood flow are commonly added to topical products, which increase sensitivity and therefore make sensation enhancing more effective. “New Ultimate Lube, for instance, has added Ginseng,” Boote notes.

So the challenge to companies today is to stand apart.

Classic Erotica says the deciding factor is the quality of ingredients along with couplesfriendly packaging approach. “A lot of people want a simple ‘magic potion’ to fix their problems. What we do is take that idea and make it a reality, except it’s not magic, it’s science,” the team says.

Product development specialist Christina Zaragoza says that the company utilizes both clinical and natural proven ingredients. She adds that as company has evolved it has been constantly researching the latest and greatest ingredients on the market. She also keeps up to date by reading about new innovations in skin care and meeting with chemists on a regular basis. “One of my favorite parts of my job is testing out new formulas. We compile feedback from test subjects from various demographics — old, young, female, male, active, non-active, etc. — to properly assess our formulas for customer satisfaction,” Zaragosa says.

On the marketing side Kirkley adds that the company prides itself on its customer relations. “We listen. From tradeshows, to store visits, to feedback left on our website, we are always listening to what consumers want and trying to fill any voids in the current marketplace — much like what we did with our Max 4 Men & Crazy Girl lines.”

What’s more, the company is a big proponent of social media that not only allows customer feedback but also lets it explore many issues in women’s and men’s sexual health. “We are able to write about various topics and offer up products that can help people achieve the best sex of their lives. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that our job does not end at just manufacturing product anymore.”

Mainstream media is also playing a part in new trends. Kirkley says media and advertising partners like Bravo TV and radio personality Emily Morse is a supporter of the company’s products who has helped broaden wider appeal. In addition, product education is “king” for the company. Kirkley notes that her sales team is doing extensive work training its distributors and retailers on the distinctive features of its products. “As a company, we’re always exploring new and exciting opportunities to share our entire range of products with the world,” Kirkley says. And that translates into more mainstream acceptance.

Sensuva branding and marketing director Lisa Mazurek, who joined the company early in 2013, is staying on top of the demand by providing products that adhere to strict manufacturing guidelines and help heighten a “higher sense of self and sexuality in a natural way.”

She says each unique topical cream or oil is developed and manufactured in the company’s U.S. facility in handcrafted batches to assure the highest quality control standards in the industry. Sensuva’s product line includes ON Arousal Oil and Balm for women, ON Libido sex drive enhancer for women, On Power Glide performance enhancer for men, X On the Lips pheromone balm, and On Sex Drive testosterone boosting cream for men.

Along with its production standards, the fairly new company (that debuted in 2010) is also offering some unique products to stay competitive. Mazurek notes “X On the Lips,” as an example. Its “buzzing” lip balm featuring natural pheromones meant to attract a partner and pull him or her close and leave a “very memorable” kiss. “Plant botanicals and extracts offer a sexy tingling sensation that intensifies with every kiss,” Mazurek says.

Brand manager Cassie Pendleton of United Consortium/System Jo also has a “sensation producing” product in her company’s arsenal. She points to the silicone-based Stimulating Clitoral Gel made of a proprietary blend of botanicals that is warming and tingling when applied. There’s also the “2TOTANGO” pleasure kit for couples that includes his and hers stimulating lubricants.

Pendeleton says products that are made from all natural ingredients is the trend to watch. The manager also reveals that SystemJo will soon be introducing an ingestible liquid that will boost blood flow and sensation in two formulas for both men and women.

Boote notes that the majority of topical enhancement creams that use natural ingredients are effective, and are preferred by manufacturers because they don’t conflict with medications. Other ingredients to stimulate blood flow are commonly added to topical products, which increase sensitivity and therefore make sensation enhancing more effective. Planet Earth’s Ultimate Lube, for instance, has added Ginseng.

Another offshore company, Australia’s Sensuous has developed two successful and unique topical gels — Edge a delay gel for men, and the Frenzy pleasure gel for women — that not only incorporate useful ingredients, but approach the market in a unique fashion.

Company President Keith Jones says that when the firm set about creating these products it was determined to find alternative ways to achieve its outcomes. “For example, with Edge we did not want to use Lidocaine or a similar chemical numbing agent, we wanted to find a new way of giving a man full sexual control. In the end not only did we find an alternative formula that works, but also we found something with an even better advantage. The product is effective for several hours, which means that when the moment is right there are no embarrassing interruptions reaching for a bottle of spray,” Jones explains.

He adds that Edge should be thought of as more as part of a grooming routine. “As you get ready for the evening, all you have to do is just apply a small amount of Edge and later when things start to heat up, you can be totally confident that you will not disappoint your partner.”

Adhering to Australian regulations, both of Sensuous’ products are made in a TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) facility. Jones says he made the decision so he would be confident that the products are made under stringent controls and in order to conform to best Australian manufacturing quality practices. The benefit is that customers can be confident that they are purchasing a product that they can trust and that does exactly what it says on the carton.

Classic Erotica also is progressive in its manufacturing. The company employs the use of Niacin (Vitamin B3) in some of its products that helps plays a vital role in energy production and blood circulation to the genital area, creating what is known as a “niacin sex flush,” which produces sensations of tingly, intense warmth and increased blood flow.

The company says the ingredient can be found in its 2013 XBIZ Best Topical Enhancement Product Award winning Max Arousal Exciting Male Sex Gel product. It’s also used in Max 4 Men, Max ArousalMale Sex Pleasure Gel, Max 4 Men, Max G Stimulating Male Sex Prostate Gel and Crazy Girl Wanna Be Naughty Sex Arousal Crème.

Natural clove leaf oil, that works to enhance blood flow for greater sensitivity and pleasure while heightening pleasure during foreplay is another ingredient that can be found in the company’s products. Sensuous’ Frenzy was created with an even more exotic approach. Jones reveals that he wanted “something which was different” and went back to some ancient remedies. “We didn’t quite sit round a cauldron chanting ‘hubble bubble,’ but we did make use of Australian bush herbs and flower essences with aphrodisiac qualities to get the results that we were after,” he reveals.

But it’s not just what’s on the label that counts. Topical products can also be used to sell other pleasure items and is another important category for topical creators to watch.

Pendleton says topical products are a great way for retailers to upsell sex toys.

“We’re educating our retailers about selling less expensive toys with topical products and offering consumers an enhanced product combination. If a consumer can’t afford a Lelo Body Wand, for example, the store can sell a less expensive product with a topical product. Every toy then becomes an upsell. This clicks for the customer,” Pendleton says.

Topical products are no doubt “topical,” but what how are they stacking up against the long-standing popularity of pills?

Boote says that although they give instant results, they’re often not as potent as pills. And for many people instant gratification is what they’re looking to achieve. “We find that people stick with the topical products for a few months until they start to feel adventurous then they often move on to pills, which can give longer lasting and more impressive benefits.”

To create a bulwark against what Boote describes as a “natural progression,” to pills, her company has produced its “Ultimate “range line that contains two types of topical desensitizers, a topical enhancement lube, and two forms of herbal stimulation pills. She explains that because each product has been developed in tandem, users can mix and match, using all products together or a combination of the range. Some may find that they start off with Ultimate Lube to enhance sexual contact, but progress to Ultimate P3 for longerlasting performance benefits.

But Boote’s not that worried about pills overcoming the topical arena saying that topicals will always be popular, especially for people who are reticent about trying new enhancement products. Topical products are often the first step for consumers who commonly have doubts about taking a pill for the first time, according to the GM who says, “If anyone has doubts about enhancement products, topical products can convince even the most skeptical individuals in seconds.”

The folks at Classic Erotica point out the advantage of most topical enhancers is that they produce faster-acting results and are absorbed into the body much faster than pills. Topicals also offer numerous choices in strengths to achieve various levels of intensity and offering a solution for each individual’s comfort level.

Sensuva’s Mazurek offers her women’s ON Libido daily topical cream, produced from a proprietary blend of botanicals and bioactive nutrients, as an example of a product that’s as sexy as pills with added benefits. She says the product’s unique transdermal technology delivers key ingredients directly to the bloodstream where it integrates into the body’s natural sexual response system. The formula increases the user’s desire for sex and intimacy while encouraging a subtle hormonal balance that heightens her sensuality and awareness from the inside.

And how can a pill compare to the aforementioned “X On the Lips” that offers a sexy tingling sensation that intensifies with every kiss, making it nearly impossible to let go. Add a visually stimulating kissing guide, and users are guaranteed a “kinetic kissing session that will leave both mouths yearning for more.”

Now that’s enhancement.

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