Pleasure Product Manufacturers Talk Global Branding

Alex Henderson

Manufacturers of pleasure products can be found in many different countries, from the United States to the Netherlands to Sweden. But whether a company was founded in Stockholm or Hollywood, marketing pleasure products globally can be much more profitable than simply marketing them at home. And with the market for pleasure products continuing to grow and expanding in different parts of the world, having a strong international marketing plan is more important than ever.

Kristen Tribby, director of marketing and education for Fun Factory, stressed that the challenge for pleasure product manufacturers is to strengthen a brand internationally while appealing to the different sexual attitudes found in different countries. “Creating an international brand is directly related to your team and your relationship with your customers in each market,” Tribby told XBIZ. “Listening to each of these channels, having a process for addressing feedback and basing your strategy on the feedback given will be imperative for any global brand. The phrase ‘think global, act local’ is a guiding principle at Fun Factory and is weaved into all of our marketing campaigns. This principle is especially important in the pleasure product industry, as sexuality is both very personal and heavily influenced by cultural norms. A successful strategy will take into account how sexuality is perceived in each market rather than trying to make a one-size-fits-all approach work. It is also extremely important to develop a brand nomenclature that speaks to the global market. Doing global word checks and understanding the selling points of a product for each market will help give the brand universal appeal.”

Doing global word checks and understanding the selling points of a product for each market will help give the brand universal appeal. -Kristen Tribby, Fun Factory

Tribby added that Fun Factory is seeing a lot of variations when it comes to buying patterns in the U.S. compared to buying patterns in European countries. “In Europe, we are seeing a decline in brick and mortar stores,” Tribby observed. “In the U.S., we are seeing a healthy retail environment and strong growth patterns. The U.S. is definitely a leader in the pleasure product industry because of an increasingly sex-positive environment that brick-and-mortar stores are continuing to adopt and expand on. The more retailers that embrace this change and encourage an open dialogue around sex, the healthier the market will continue to be.”

Just as U.S.-based pleasure product manufacturers are aggressively marketing themselves all over Europe, European pleasure product manufacturers are paying close attention to the U.S. One such company is Shots Media, which is headquartered in the Netherlands but now has a U.S. division called Shots America and a factory in Santa Clarita, Calif. Oscar Heijnen, Shots Media’s owner and CEO, told XBIZ: “At this very moment, it is the Americas and specifically, the USA, where we recently opened our brand new offices and warehouse. This is giving us the possibility to handle the sales and distribution of all the Shots products ourselves after taking it back from the previous distributor. It was a very logical step to take as we are introducing now almost 2,000 fresh products to the market which have proven to be bestsellers and market leaders in Europe.”

Heijnen noted that intensifying a company’s marketing campaign in one part of the world doesn’t mean forgetting about another part of the world, and Shots’ aggressive outreach in the U.S. doesn’t make Shots any less mindful of Europe. “Our company is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and we can proudly look back on the products we have designed and manufactured during this time,” Heijnen asserted. “All these products will now become available for the American markets, which is exciting for us as well as for all our new customers. Apart from our American company, I am proud to announce that our European company has grown a staggering 45 percent over the first eight months of 2015. I think this makes us the fastest growing company in Europe, and I hope I can make that same statement for our American company at the end of the year. I like to see my sales crew travel and meet up with our distributors in their offices and stores.”

The pjur Group, known for its variety of lubricants and sexual health products, is a prime example of a company with a very global marketing plan. The company’s headquarters are in Wasserbillig, Luxembourg, but its products are manufactured in Germany — and pjur has offices in countries ranging from the U.S. to Australia. Michael Bart, the pjur Group’s marketing manager, explained that having offices in different parts of the world is helping pjur understand the needs of customers in different markets.

Bart told XBIZ, “The challenge is clear: on the one hand, you need to be a strong, consistent brand globally — and on the other hand, you need to adapt your marketing and branding to the customer and cultural demands locally. However, the most important thing is to be always in direct contact and exchange with your customers. At pjur, we have established pjur offices around the world. There is a pjur Group USA, pjur Group Australia, pjur Group Asia, etc. With this, we can guarantee that there is a great direct communication and teamwork with the corresponding retailers in each country as well as with the headquarters in Luxembourg.”

Bart pointed to Asia as an important growth market for pleasure products. “The rapid growth of the Asian market in all branches of industry has boosted the percentage share of the consuming middle class,” Bart observed. “Rising standards of living and prosperity lead to an increasing desire for individualization, self-realization and a high quality of living. This applies in particular to sexuality and partnership — a process that is promoted through the sustained opening and liberalization of society. This is one of the reasons why our products are doing so well in Asia. Next to this, there are also many western markets — e.g. Europe and North America — which are still growing due to social trends and social changes in relation to sexuality. Those are great social developments, and they provide new business opportunities.”