When Worlds Collide: Lubes/Edible Products Build Brand Awareness

Walter Paisley

Just as vinyl seems to have made a kind of comeback in the music world, so have tried-and-true methods of marketing pleasure products—particularly lubes and consumables—in the still relatively new 21st century universe called the Internet. More conventional, but no less effective approaches to promoting one’s products have included in-house training of novelty store employees (to educate the consumer at brickand- mortar outlets), as well as print ads, trade publications, television, radio and plain old word of mouth. Of course, the Internet is still an incredibly powerful tool to make retailers and consumers aware of lube products.

Additionally, those same lube manufacturers and marketing agencies are spotlighting the more natural, health-conscious approach to these products to make them all the more, well, marketable. And (can you blame them?), some companies are absolutely more heavily focused on the Internet rather than other media avenues when promoting their products. But a subtle, yet similarly eye-opening retail trend in the lube/edibles world is a unique, highly productive merging of the cyber and real/tangible worlds, making the playing field all the more dynamic.

We’re definitely building brand awareness through trade shows, trade publications, and word of mouth. -Jeff Hawkins, Director of Sales, Divine 9

Classic Erotica, for one, provides a good example of this fusion. Excited about its new Crazy Girl and Max 4 Men lines of lube and sexual enhancement products, the company fully embraces the cyber world of promotion.

“Through Twitter, Facebook and our blog,” notes Cassandra Kirkley Classic Erotica marketing/branding executive, “social media has been a great tool for us to not only connect with customers, but it’s also granted us the ability to explore many issues in women’s and men’s sexual health. For example, being able to write (in our blog) about various topics and offer products that help people achieve the best sex of their lives has been incredibly rewarding.”

But it just doesn’t end there. The company is also reaching out to customers in other more, literally, hands-on ways.

“Most recently,” adds Kirkley, “we participated in an all-women’s event in Los Angeles called Pamper Me Fabulous which caters exclusively to women of all demographics that love one thing: shopping. And our participation in this event helped us get more recognition from a whole new subset of women in the mainstream audience.

“We’re also very fortunate to have some really great media partners. For example, Emily Morse (host of ‘Sex with Emily’/ Bravo TV personality) is a supporter of our products and has spoken about them on her own show, as well as on the hit radio show ‘Loveline.’ Both programs have such broad mainstream appeal that the brand has been able to reach even more consumers than ever before.”

Just this past year, Divine 9 Corporation — a fairly new lube company—has achieved the exposure it was aiming for … and they’re heavily promoting such on their site. Attributing a large part of their lube’s critical success to a sea algae extract of carrageenan, which the company calls “Carragel,” Divine 9 states on its site that the lube helps “protect and moisturize the skin, leaving it fresh and clean.”

“We’re definitely building brand awareness through trade shows, trade publications, and word of mouth,” notes Divine 9 director of sales Jeff Hawkins.

Divine 9 displays the results from a medical studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute and McGill University using its “Carragel” lube formula on its website. Divine9Lubricants.com also appeals to health-conscious consumers by highlighting mainstream-press-related articles including a piece from USA Today entitled “Hope for HPV Prevention.”

Pjur USA, which happily touts itself as introducing the world market to the first silicone lubricant 16 years ago, is another example of a lube company using the best of both worlds, cyber and tangible, to pump their products. They’re particularly excited about a new lubricant called pjur NUDE, which “has no glycerin, no parabens and is preservative free.”

“It’s the first product in the world that’s truly free of ingredients that in some cases irritate sensitive women,” says pjur USA CEO Richie Harris. “It also hits the vegan/naturalist-end customer.”

As far as building trade awareness to their lubes, pjur USA does it all: everything from expos, to street fairs, to print ads, to in-store demos to social media (including Facebook Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest). And the company is particularly high about its lube-product commercials.

“We have commercials on YouTube,” adds Harris, “as well as commercials used in stores all over the world and—in some markets and counties—on late-night cable TV, as well as on our customers’ websites.”

Several factors have also bolstered the female-friendly, health-conscious lubricant brand, Sliquid.

“Honestly, we have built our company by word of mouth and partnered with some truly amazing retailers who support our efforts,” said Dean Elliott, Sliquid’s CEO and founder. “In addition there are some fabulous sex educators out there who we have had the honor of working with and together we have created a powerful yet creative team.

“Our reputation is built on what we put inside the bottle, cleaner ingredients, and a more natural way of creating the same type of mainstream products available.”

With all of its products, Sliquid focuses on natural ingredients infused with body beneficial certified organic botanical extracts. While initially targeting the female demographic, Sliquid later expanded its range to reach male consumers with the Dude Lube range. The company will be debuting new additions to the collection, along with other new products, at this month’s ANME Founders Show.

“Dude Lube is premiering its new look—still Urban Cowboy, however now even cooler and sleeker then before,” Elliott said. “We are pleased to announce the arrival of our Sliquid Balance Collection. These products are blended with our certified organic botanicals, vegan and intended for healing the body and soul. Splash, our popular Gentle Feminine Wash, has been ‘upgraded’ with a new spa look, and added certified botanical extracts. These are available in Honeydew Cucumber, Mango Passion, Grapefruit Thyme and Naturally Unscented. Balance will also include our Sliquid Smooth Shave Creams, Massage Oils and Shea Butter Body Creams. All are naturally based and blended with vegan ingredients.”

Sisters Jodi and Jennifer Scott along with their mother Cathy started Sierra Sage Herbs six years ago. “The three of us are partners,” says Jodi, sales and marketing director. “So it’s just us three chicks,” she jokes.

What isn’t a joke is how the company blasted off from being a passionate hobby for the Scott’s, to becoming a viable, thriving business. Curiously enough, Jodi attributes a good portion of the company’s sudden growth to a kind of reverse effect in this cyber age. That is, while most companies move from selling their products from stores to the Web, the reverse has been the case for Sierra Sage Herbs.

“Our original business model and number one way to target customers was the Internet. Then what happened is, the customers started to push for us to be in retail outlets. Consequently, retailers began contacting us. So now we’re just starting to ship in-store.”

Selling to both retailers and consumers, Sierra Sage has two major lubrication products, both edible and both produced for the more health-conscious crowds: their Southern Butters and their newer Bliss-On line. Southern Butters can be used as lubes but also as body moisturizers and massage lotions. The three flavors/fragrances include Rose & Lavender, Sandalwood & Cinnamon, and Lemongrass, Ginseng & Mint. “The butters are coconutbased, which is incredibly medicinal,” adds Jodi Scott, “and all of our butters naturally enhance ones (sexual) mood.”

A newer Southern Butter flavor, Tingly Mint Butter, is infused with ginseng, peppermint, menthol and other herbs that heavily increase the blood flow. “(So much so),” adds Scott, “that this increase produces what we call the ‘hydraulic effect.’ I mean, I have men telling me that they haven’t had a hard-on like this since they were in college.”

Sierra Sage’s equally health-conscious new line, Bliss-On, is waterbased and infused with Calendula flowers, which, according to Scott, are anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and antiyeast. The two Bliss-On flavors are Fragrance Free and Ginseng/Peppermint.

“I think that consumers are just more educated these days,” Scott points out, regarding the popularity of all-natural lubes. “People today just know more about what chemicals are being used in what products.”

Always making positive waves, Screaming O is thoroughly hyped about its new O Balm line, which it’s promoting through more avenues than simple email blasts. The three new Screaming O balms are O Balm Warming, O Balm Cooling, and O Balm Gloss Climax Crème; with such flavors including cinnamon sizzle (for the Warming Balm) and peppermint shiver (for the Cooling).

Additionally, Screaming O rep Conde Aumann notes a more natural approach to their new lubes.

“These products are made for use on sensitive areas, as more shoppers pay careful attention to what they put on and in their bodies,” says Aumann. “No one wants to buy a product that contains an ingredient that could irritate or cause any type of discomfort. The best part is that these products — and the entire Studio Collection — are discreetly disguised as ordinary makeup. Users can bring them everywhere and use them almost anywhere without anyone suspecting a thing!”

Marketing-wise, Screaming O products are targeted at consumers, retailers, and distributors through a curious host of manners.

“We’ve produced special product education videos for every item in the Studio Collection,” Aumann states, “including the O Balm Warming & Cooling Balms and O Balm Gloss Climax Crème, to spread the word while informing retailers and store clerks of their selling points. We also have a comprehensive marketing campaign backing the Studio Collection, including PR, monthly ads, and in-store trainings.”

And let’s, of course, not forget about Astroglide. A massage product from Astroglide called “Tantalize” is the first of a new upscale line of lubes from the hugely popular brand, which Paradise Marketing is especially jazzed up about. According to Paradise Marketing CEO Dennis Paradise, “the formula is a unique emulsification that includes water, sunflower oil, three types of silicone and other proprietary ingredients.

“Aphrodisiacs,” Dennis specifies, “include jasmine, horny goat weed, caffeine, L-citrulline, ginseng, and sage. Pheromones include androstenone and estratetraenol. But the Tantalize massage product is the first to combine all of these ingredients. It’s going to be Paradise Marketing’s hot summer product.”

Paradise has a similarly hot marketing program in place for such introductory lubes, aside from a comprehensive social media plan.

“We do,” continues Dennis. “It covers national TV and cable, print, radio, and magazine advertising — including In Touch, People and Cosmopolitan. It’s all part of our effort to reach every market segment. Also, we must tailor our messages accordingly. For example, we don’t speak to distributors about the same issues that we do our consumers. The consumer is not concerned with how many SKUs are in a case or what the inventory turn is every month, but the distributor would be very interested to know those figures.”

And in terms of a comparatively big player like Astroglide, Paradise doesn’t pull any punches when discussing the product’s success.

“Astroglide [has a history of] proven pleasurable performance and an extremely high trust level from the consumer. According to recent Nielsen data, it’s the No. 1-selling water-based lubricant in the nation.

“These big brands do everything that the other brands would love to do — but what we are not doing is making any unfounded or unsubstantiated claims regarding our products.”

Classic Erotica’s Cassandra Kirkley welcomes everyone to the playing field: the established entities, as well as the up-and-comers.

“Competition is a healthy commodity,” she notes. “It keeps us all on our toes and always consumer-aware.”