The pleasure products sector has many facets in 2016, from fetish attire to a wide range of vibrators, dildos and other sex toys. And one area of the pleasure products sector that has continued to grow in sophistication in recent years is the market for lubricants, lotions and gels. These days, one finds an abundance of lube consumers, both male and female, who read labels carefully and pay close attention to the ingredients — and the competition for those consumers can be fierce.
Cassie Pendleton, marketing director for Wicked Sensual Care, told XBIZ, “The adult consumer, more specifically the lube customer, is savvier than ever. They’re looking at ingredient decks and are keen on ingredients they want and don’t want in the products they use.”
The importance of an ingredient deck that speaks to safety is key. —Michelle Marcus, Sliquid
More and more, pleasure product companies of 2016 are marketing lubes from both a health/wellness standpoint and an erotic standpoint — and Wicked Sensual Care is no exception. Pendleton noted, “We steer away from ingredients like parabens because of carcinogenic concerns, and we make many glycerin-free options for those concerned about glycerin sensitivities. Beyond omissions, we develop formulas that have amazing additions. Product development at Wicked Sensual Care is focused on finding natural botanicals and extracts that enhance our formulas and add additional benefits not typically found in lubricants: olive leaf extract, red clover, lavender, thyme, just to name a few.”
Pendleton added: “Olive leaf extract acts as a natural biostatic, preventing the spread of bacteria. This means we can now offer a product that helps protect while it satisfies as a lubricant.”
Michelle Marcus, vice president of sales and marketing for Sliquid, stressed that for many consumers of lubes, reading labels is not an afterthought — it is one of the first things they do.
“The importance of an ingredient deck that speaks to safety is key,” Marcus told XBIZ. “As a whole, consumers are more aware of the ingredients that are most beneficial for their bodies, and knowing that the lubricant they are going to be putting in their bodies is all encompassing of top tier and clean ingredients is the more likely direction in their decision-making at the point of purchase.”
Marcus added: “Sliquid started with a water-based formula, Sliquid H2O, and water-based products continue to be our top sellers, though the thicker gel formulas like Sassy and Organics Natural Gel have become our top sellers. Sliquid was the first to popularize the use of plant cellulose as a natural ingredient for lubricants.”
Lubes, according to Marcus, have been an increasingly prominent topic of discussion among consumers. Marcus observed, “The topic of lubes in general is more openly discussed today among consumers, the medical community, sex-positive educators, and even within the media — all of which is helping to reshape the way consumers think about and therefore, view lubes. Part of this evolving viewpoint is understanding that lubes are not just in response to various ‘issues,’ but they will actually make for a more satisfying and typically more fun intimate experience both for solo play and with a partner.”
An emphasis on health, wellness and natural ingredients has also been part of the marketing strategy for lubes at Trigg Labs. Alicia Palmero, creative director for Trigg Labs, told XBIZ, “Some of the most innovative ingredients we’ve recently incorporated are used in our new Wet Organics formula. One unique all-natural ingredient is a widely popular anti-aging supplement from China called tremella fuciformis extract, which are powerful polysaccharides extracted from Chinese snow mushrooms. The tiny particles retain almost 500 times their weight in water, helping to prevent the breakdown of the skin’s micro blood vessels and keeping an optimal blood flow throughout the skin.”
Palmero added, “Some other innovative ingredients we are excited to use are also camellia sinensis leaf extract for its anti-inflammatory properties, quinoa seed extract for elasticity and skin regeneration, and sodium hyaluronate for its moisture-locking properties.”
Marla Lee, president of Kama Sutra, said that the company believes in keeping things simple and straight-forward when it comes to offering consumers health-conscious lubes. Lee told XBIZ, “Many companies have tried to get clever with adding unusual ingredients, but our focus is on what not to add in, such as parabens and other potentially irritating ingredients. Our customers are always shocked when they find out how much slip our water-based formula has, and yet, it is silicone-free.”
The market for lubes and lotions is far from monolithic, and marketing strategies can differ when it comes to reaching male and female consumers. Pendleton observed, “Women tend to need gentle products that address skin sensitivities. Men lean towards products that are user-friendly with an easy cleanup.”
Michael Bart, head of global and online marketing for the pjur Group, told XBIZ, “There is a great variety of reasons why people look for personal lubricants. Most people just want to spice up their sex lives. For gay couples, almost always, a lubricant is part of sex, while women in their menopause or after childbirth, for example, need it as a way to relieve vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. Normally, women look for formulations which warm and sooth the skin, whereas men like formulations with stimulating and tingling effects.”
Bart added that with lubes, packaging can vary when it comes to targeting male consumers versus female consumers. “Most women look for clean and bright products when it’s about cosmetics and intimate products,” Bart noted. “That’s why our pjur Woman range has white bottles, and the products that appeal to men have black bottles. Of course, there are some products that are bought by both target groups, but we experienced that a division into these two colors has been a good decision.”
In addition to marketing of lubes to individuals, companies are also targeting couples. Alexandre Enumo, vice president of sales and marketing for HotFlowers USA, told XBIZ, “The consumers are using our products like a complement to get fun and pleasure — not to do just the basic intercourse, but to be more involved with the partner. This is our mission: to help our customer to be more happy and excited in their sexual life.”