opinion

Distributing the Pleasure

Dan Cameron

As the new year helps people recharge their goals, careers and outlooks, it’s a fitting time for pleasure product distributors to do the same — literally.

“Rechargeable pleasure products were popular last year. Customers like the rechargeable feature, non-battery operated toys that are ready when they are. Plus, rechargeable toys are usually a great value,” says Larry Garland, CEO of Eldorado.

Couple’s toys — gay and straight — are expected to grow even more in 2014, along with lingerie. Additionally, new advances in pleasure products technology will also be a big trend — whether it is new technologies and new products, or new improvements to existing items. -Larry Garland, CEO of Eldorado.

Garland notes that among 2013’s bestsellers were the Magic Wand Original, at a low price point; all the way up to Hydromaxx Xtreme, which wholesales at a higher price. Lelo, JOPEN, OhMiBod, Tenga, G-Vibe, Je Joue and Minna were also top sellers in the median price range last year, he adds.

“Couples toys continued to do well in 2013 with the release of the We-Vibe 4, along with male-enhancement supplements that remained top sellers. Customers were looking for a price and quality balance. They weren’t afraid to spend at a higher price point in order to get a product with higher perceived value.”

SLS Specialty CEO Shane Nelson agrees, citing the highly anticipated introduction of the We-Vibe 4 and the innovative G-Vibe as highlights of 2013 — a year marked by the return of products that won’t break consumers’ bank accounts. 2014 will see a continuation of mid- to low-cost items, as he predicts customers will continue gravitating toward that product category. Nelson also expects to see even more vibrators developed with rechargeable USB bases.

“The mainstream media has played a major role in driving the adult retail market and inspiring first-time shoppers to head to an adult store. Much of what they’re reading about in Cosmopolitan or seeing on morning talk shows can only be found in the adult market, which boosts sales and product popularity immensely,” he says.

“At SLS Specialty, we have noticed that more consumers prefer the kind of personal customer service that we provide. We are also working closely with our vendors to provide training and marketing materials to our customers and ensure proper understanding of each product’s features and benefits. This will continue into 2014 as we continue developing our one-on-one customer relationships.”

Good Vibrations Purchasing Manager Coyote Days says companies are finally acknowledging that many people are just not in a place to spend huge dollars on their sex toys. “Some are, but we are seeing great success with product lines that offer a true range of products, diverse not only in their designs but also their price points. Emerging technologies continue to intrigue customers — and they will continue to see tech products come out. But at the end of the day, the winner is going to be the product that gets the job done at a price that is accessible.”

Days lists Magic Wand, Limon, Pleasurette, the LoveLife line and (surprise!) We-Vibe 4 as hot movers. She lists the relaunch of the Magic Wand — seeing a triedand - true classic be given a makeover — as a highlight, the product proving to be an even strong seller in the market.

Garland adds that as environmental consciousness popularity increases every year, consumers will be looking for organic and earth-friendly products as well as demanding higher quality products from the adult industry.

“System JO and Sinclair Institute have already released USDA-certified organic lubricants. Couple’s toys — gay and straight — are expected to grow even more in 2014, along with lingerie. Additionally, new advances in pleasure products technology will also be a big trend — whether it is new technologies and new products, or new improvements to existing items.”

Garland adds that when it comes to following trends and consumer habits, media and education seems to be the consensus.

“Eldorado emphasizes our tester programs and online educational materials in order to give our stores’ sales associates the best support so they can have an educated conversation with the end consumer and make that sale,” he says. “The Fifty Shades phenomenon, Trojan ads on TV and Jimmyjane’s publicity, mainstreaming adult toys has removed some of the taboo associated with adult products, which has brought a lot more consumers into adult stores than ever before.”

Marketing to the end consumer will drive the adult industry in the future, he adds, by marketing products not only as pleasure products but as sexual health devices as well. “Packaging is transitioning to female friendly, moving away from nudity on the package, full view of product and in-store testers to drive sales. Testers are great because they put the product into customers’ hands. They can feel, touch and see the power of the product. Customers are more likely to buy a product after they feel and touch it. Internally, Eldorado has upgraded inbound and outbound technology, increasing accuracy and prompt same-day shipping, which better serves our customers by getting products on their shelves quickly.”

Days acknowledges that press can be an influence, but she foresees a continuation of word of mouth as powerful — people recommending a brand or product to their friend, partner or lover. “As well as customers really listening to the educated recommendations of our sex education sales associates, who are able to offer their own insight to each product as well as brand quality.”

And when it comes to marketing, Days sees manufacturers continuing to strive toward vibrant, clean packaging that catches the eye with design rather than being sold by erotic imagery. “I think we saw even more of this in 2013 than before with a lot of the larger companies following suit.”

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