Does Marketing Give the Wrong Impression About Lube?

Mark Espinosa

I really can’t tell you why I was so adamantly opposed to flossing when I was a child. I imagine the reasons were very similar to my reluctance to eating brussel sprouts or using sunscreen. There was just something about flossing that seemed to be in moral opposition to my juvenile fundamentals. Sadly, this random adolescent oral protest lingered well into my late twenties. “Flossing was something that old people did before slipping into their jammies and passing out for the night at seven o’clock.”

As time brushed on, some biological expiration date seemed to run its course in my mouth. At first it was just a couple of fillings, then deep cleanings, and then a crown, followed by a double root canal. What the hell was happening to my mouth? Had flossing and I gotten off on the wrong foot? I considered the way I had been presented with flossing and why it had wrongfully imprinted this negative assumption in my head? Regardless, now I make sure to always have floss within mouth’s reach of me.

By marketing lube as the perfect way to bring excitement back into the bedroom, aren’t we creating the assumption that this product is only needed once the romance in your relationship has started to fizzle?

Growing older makes you really reconsider your position on a lot of important things. Naturally, I turned this newfound sense of re-discovery towards the adult industry. I often like to imagine how our customers view the products we sell. Naturally, we wouldn’t need educated staff members and informative content on our web pages if customers shared our opinions on all the products we sell. Our professions provide us a certain educational privilege and availability. As I go through the standard list of conversations I’ve had with customers, one particular conversation (had multiple times a day) rings out in my head. Lube. I spent more time explaining lube to customers, than anything else in the shop. Which makes me wonder, is the way that lube is marketed creating the wrong impression of it in the minds of our customers?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a considerable shift in how most lube manufacturers advertise their products towards the mainstream public. It’s become way more common now to see billboards, magazine articles and web advertisements popping up over major cities, popular magazines and non-adult themed websites.

Company’s like K-Y and Trojan have dipped way more than just the tip into the realm of prime time television. I still remember being somewhat shocked when I first saw a couple openly discussing the reasons why they preferred the latest “his” and “her” brand lubricants on my TV. Had we received a point in our social evolution that we could start hearing frank conversations about sexuality crammed between our favorite television shows? Well, no. After the initial shock wore off, I started to ruminate on the impression that commercial had left me with. The overall idea was that a couple had gotten a little too comfortable with their sexual habits and was now looking for ways to “spice up” and “rejuvenate” their love life. Which isn’t a bad thing!

Most of what we do deals with expanding the sexual horizons of our customers. Lube can serve as an excellent “add on” sale or gateway product into bigger and better things. We want our customer to access their love life and take active steps towards improving it and if any product had the ability to “grease the wheels” of social change, it would almost have to be lubricants.

Yet, I still can’t help but wonder if that particular tactic of marketing is creating the wrong impression around lubricants? What happens when a product, that serves many purposes, is predominately marketed in one certain way? By marketing lube as the perfect way to bring excitement back into the bedroom, aren’t we creating the assumption that this product is only needed once the romance in your relationship has started to fizzle?

As retailers, manufacturers, educators and distributors, we have a more enlightened perspective on the items that we carry. We know things like: dildos and strapons can be sold to a wide and diverse selection of genders and orientations. What makes us successful in business is our ability to get into the heads of our customers and cater our presentations towards their educational weaknesses. Like how the cultural tide is turning on “pegging,” I think the next step in our industry-wide re-imagining has to be to continue to expand beyond the idea that lube is just for people who have difficulty getting aroused or as a stimulation aide that’ll “get the job done.” I’ve recommended lube to customers and saw their interest immediately turn off and wander.

“So, you’re all set on your dildo, let’s talk about lube...” If I had a lube packet for every time the customer’s response was “why would I need lube with that,” I could slip-n-slide all the way to Alaska. I’m shocked by the amount of people who don’t realize the overall importance and necessity of lube. I can’t help but wonder if people view using lube as some sign of sexual deviancy? I understand that these assumptions are probably not being made by a majority of your customers, but, even if a few feel that way then it is already too many.

With lube brands such as Sliquid, Please, Good Clean Love, Pjur and UberLube constantly improving the ingredients of their products to better serve their customers, we also need to help improve the overall awareness and satisfaction of our customers. Let’s all make sure that there’s bottle of lube in the bedside drawer of every person, regardless of if they are sexually active or not, because it’s just as important as floss and sunscreen!

As national sales manager of Pleasure Works Wholesale, Mark Espinosa believes that as the industry progresses alongside communications technology, it’s important that we always remember that we get to say that we “give people orgasms for a living!” So, why not have a little fun in the process?