opinion

Power to the Pill

Bob Johnson

Blame it on mainstream’s newfound love affair with all things adult, or the simple fact that people are living longer and want to extend their sex lives well into the golden years. Whatever the reason, sexual enhancement products are fast becoming the next wave of pleasure products right behind the recent explosion of sex toys.

Retailers and distributors alike are basking in the up tick in the sale of everything from penis enlargement pills to clitoral gels that leave a tingle on any part of the body they’re applied.

If you add the spice — it’s simply more enjoyable. And that’s what customers are after. Enhancement products that add to the experience. -Charles T. Craton, Owner Entice Couples Boutique.

So what are the key trends pushing sex pills and enhancement products?

Distribution giant Eldorado Trading account manager Alex Cage, who monitors the sales and demographics for a number of different stores, identified three key retail sectors and their respective hot items. She says traditional adult stores; alternatives stores (with gay/BDSM concentration) and non-adult lingerie stores each have core products that are fueling the personal sex product market.

“We’re seeing CalExotics’ Waterproof Jack Rabbit, Fetish Fantasy Sex Swing by Pipedreams, Maia toys, and Screaming O new releases to generally be the hot items at everyday adult stores. Because of the widespread reputation of these products, these stores have impressive merchandising available to them to support these lines and make the sale an easy one for anyone entering an adult establishment,” Cage says.

In comparison, alt stores on the BDSM side are doing well with Master Series by XR Brands, Rodeo Harnesses, Falcon Cocks by Icon Brands and Kinklab items from Stockroom (including the new Neon Wands and Ruff Doggie).

Cage notes that vibrant packaging and allure of these state of the art toys make them a “dream product” for stores carrying a higher end variety of adult products.

For the less adventurous consumer who tends to frequent lingerie and non-adult establishments, items like Pure Instinct pheromones, Crazy Girl products and Max for Men Products by Classic Erotica are doing well. Other hot sellers include Tiani 2 by Lelo, Kama Sutra items, and Key by Jopen. “With their gender friendly packaging and non adult looks, lingerie stores find it easy to carry items of this nature to cross market to their customers without issue or problems with local ordinances,” Cage says.

But it’s not only “hard” goods that’s bringing in the customers. The growing desire to boost one’s sexual experience has given rise to consumers now seeking out performance enhancing products to augment their toy collections.

Athens, Georgia retailer Entice Couples Boutique owner Charles T. Craton says he’s seeing solid sales for sexual enhancement products for both men and women and there’s no sign that the interest will wane any time soon. In fact, Craton adds, as these products become more popular, new companies will emerge.

The Entice stores see steady sales in performance boosters, men’s volumizers, and semen sweeteners.

Craton’s customers are “all over the place” in terms of gender and age, according to the executive who dispels the notion that it’s only older men who are interested in kicking up their sex lives to former glory.

“Some of our best products include SexVoltz from BeaMonstar for men, and Velextra for women, along with the Explozion volumizer. These items are not just use for erectile dysfunction or replacements any more, but are sought after by consumers to add performance,” Craton says.

The retailer draws the analogy of adding seasoning to a good meal. “You can but a T-bone steak and cook it and eat it and it’ll be fine. But marinating it, and adding seasoning like chef Emeril does with his food, means you’re going to have a better meal. It’s the same with sex. If you add the spice — it’s simply more enjoyable. And that’s what customers are after. Enhancement products that add to the experience.”

Tammy, a sales manager at the Toronto-based chain of six Cupid Boutiques, shared an interesting dynamic in the retail market. She says both male and female enhancement products are very popular — especially items like Sexciting vaginal cream from SD variations, the Shunga Line and the Swiss Navy 2-in-1 lubes, women’s Viva Cream and Max Size topical cream lines from M.D. Science Lab.

What’s more interesting is that in her stores — that cater to a demographic from the mid-20s to the 50s — she’s witnessing more men asking for products for their women. Men are more inquisitive and want to know what the products will do for their women, while women will come in and have the knowledge beforehand. They ask a quick question and then buy the product. “I guess men are more comfortable with asking for sex products,” she says.

Tammy emphasizes the difference between men and women purchasers saying that although men are less inhibited they tend to be more direct — especially if it’s for themselves. For products like a penile pumping system, for example, men don’t come in with questions but rather want the “miracle” to happen immediately if they buy the product.

With the advent of pharmaceutical products like Cialis, it appears that consumers also want to be a peak levels on a daily basis. Craton points to the ProLatis male enhancement product that he says sells well despite its higher $2.99 to $4.99 per pill price tag. “People will usually want these products for short periods so the daily/weekly stuff does well.”

Eldorado’s Cage, also a fan of enhancement items, agrees with the proliferation of these items and relies on retailers like Craton to be sure they’re servicing their clients in this burgeoning market.

“We solicit and listen to feedback from our customers. It is they who decide what pills are sought after by their customers and it is our responsibility and aim to keep our retailers stocked with the latest and greatest of enhancement products for their customers,” Cage says. “Our customers voices ring the loudest and we are here to field their requests.”

But Cage notes that the retail sector today is leaning more and more toward brand loyalty. “I find that often before I can even get a pill into stores, the customers are already waiting at the counter to snatch them up.”

The sales pro says there exist two kinds of pill buyers — those who are stuck on brands no longer available due to issues with the FDA, and those who build up a tolerance to these products and have to constantly change to the latest and greatest.

“In the last two years, sexual enhancers have topped our top 10 list more weeks than almost any other product. New pills constantly coming out and things hitting the market, we are on the lookout for those pills which do not give headaches to our customers and that have a positive feedback by their clientele so that we ensure the customers will be satisfied with their purchase at the end of the day,” Cage says.

Craton also bemoans potential FDA issues calling it the “biggest problem” facing the marketplace, often due to bad ingredients, but tempers the assessment with the fact that new products emerge with new formulas — and customers keep on buying.

Cage adds that popular products like Extenze have slipped away from the adult sector in recent years as they entered the mainstream market in stores like Walmart and drug stores. Customers now want a quick fix and the most milligrams possible for the pills they buy. Like a lot of retail consumers fighting with the likes of the Internet, instant gratification wins every time, Cage notes.

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