trends

E.U. Sex Toy Brands Bolster U.S. Market With Innovation

Colleen Godin

Europeans are living the American dream. Five weeks of paid vacation, government-funded medicine and education, and a healthier approach to sexual wellness are commonplace for our cousins across the ocean. If it seems like E.U. residents have a leg-up on life, it’s probably because they do. It takes quite a bit of downward scrolling to reach the U.S.’ ranking on Indeed.com’s 2016 Job Happiness Index, a list that ranks job satisfaction by country. All those positive attitudes and happy workers have spawned some of the world’s best-known sex toy manufacturers. They’re eager to bring their good European vibes (metaphorically and literally) to the U.S. and change the way we think about the business of pleasure.

The pleasure products industry makes the perfect example to support workplace research. European manufacturers take up a lot of retail real estate across the world, all of which is supported through attention to detail at every step of the sales process. Lucky for us stateside citizens, we won’t be too terribly late to the (sex toy) party. Many international adult businesses have already begun to conquer the U.S. with new headquarters and fully stocked warehouses. Though global toy companies have been exchanging handshakes with U.S. executives for decades, new ventures keep popping up with the passing of each trade show. Established manufacturers are also building their teams and adding new SKUs at lightning speed. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for the Yanks. Innovative products will inevitably make the barge-bound journey to the U.S., keeping distribution warehouses and retail shelves on the cutting edge.

European pleasure businesses always begin with a global mindset. Manufacturers are quick to establish ties with the U.S. market, and most have set up shop in several places around the world.

European pleasure businesses always begin with a global mindset. Manufacturers are quick to establish ties with the U.S. market, and most have set up shop in several places around the world. “Last July, we were exactly one-year active in the American market with our own distribution center in Santa Clarita, Calif.,” says Shots Media CEO Oscar Heijnen. “Our assortment has grown to no less than 3,000 different products, and all our products are now directly available from stock there.” Global offices provide more than a shorter hop for shipped goods. On-site teams provide expertise in sales and toy trends that require a local eye. “Our offices around the globe, especially in Miami and New York, know their country and their customers the best,” says Pjur CEO Alexander Giebel. “We fully rely on their experience and work together with them very close so that all the threads come together in Luxembourg.”

International manufacturers are quick to intuit the orgasmic pulse of consumers on every continent. “You’ve really got to know your markets,” says Andrea Duffy, international sales manager at Rocks-Off. “By the time our buyers are presented with a new product, you can be sure we have invested heavily as a company, both financially and in time, to make sure the product is the best it can be.” Each market radiates something unique and requires special attention to detail at the ground level. “Presentation of the brand is everything, and it’s down to manufacturers to equip retailers with the tools to harness the maximum potential of a brand,” says Jim Primrose, international sales manager at Lovehoney. Jim’s team offers a full-service approach that leaves nothing to chance. “We include early viewings of new products, in-depth presentations to buyers, staff training programs, full merchandising and brand support, and eye-catching point-of-sale materials.”

International pleasure product companies have a knack for genuine customer service. Developing honest, attentive relationships with every client, regardless of account size, is essential for doing business with the world. “We find that personal contact is of the utmost importance, where we have to listen very carefully to our clients and pay attention to every single detail,” says Shots Media’s Oscar Heijnen. “We also have our own IT team that constantly develops and renews our [technology] systems to support the distributors as well as the retailers.” Most European companies make clear, open communication a cornerstone of their values, leading to better ethics and happier customers. “One word can describe our relationship with our customers: partner,” says Jerome Bensimon, VP of sales for Satisfyer. “We commit to a genuine partnership with all of our distributors and retailers by supporting their requests and adapting everything we can to make their job easier and smoother.”

The most savvy of sex toy companies extend the reach of their mission all the way to the consumer. Today’s sex toy enthusiasts are true connoisseurs that have grown beyond the basics, and manufacturers with a worldly view are better prepped for success. “New concepts, technology, quality and reliability are what consumers are looking for now,” says Lawrence Mark, founder of The Lovers’ Dream. “The traditional pleasure products market is still growing, and great, new revolutionary products are still to come that will keep changing the market.” Staying on top requires an honest product backed by a knowledgeable, passionate team. “We are convinced that the producer who can get the best into the ‘soul’ of the consumer will conquer the biggest market share,” says Heijnen. “We are very aware that the products should give a good vibe once picked up, and the same goes for once the consumer gets home and eventually starts to use it.”

Fret not, America. We may only be the offspring of European explorers, but our forefathers are bringing the heat, pleasure industry-style, to the States, and we’re all bound to benefit. “Our vision is to improve the love life of people all over the world,” says Pjur’s Alexander Giebel. “That is why we truly love this challenge.” After all, there’s a reason Americans clamor for products claiming to be “of European design:” because they’re well-designed, well-made, and unafraid of pushing the envelope to make life better for everyone. “This is a real revolution,” says Satisfyer’s Jerome Bensimon. “We believe we’ve entered into a new era for sexual wellness, and this is only the beginning.”

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