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Sex Toy Manufacturers Talk Retailer, Distributor Support

Sex Toy Manufacturers Talk Retailer, Distributor Support
Alex Henderson

The pleasure products industry, at its best, is a well-oiled machine consisting of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Distributors make sure that products get from Point A to Point B, while retailers sell them to consumers. But pleasure products begin with manufacturers; without manufacturers like Doc Johnson, Lovehoney and Fun Factory, there would be no pleasure products to sell. From in-store promotions to retail education, manufacturers are finding many ways to market their pleasure products in early 2017 — and distributors and retailers, both online and brick and mortar, are helping them do it.

Robert Rheaume, president of Jimmyjane, emphasized that when retailers and distributors are successful, Jimmyjane is successful.

We are constantly looking at our customers’ unique needs to help understand how we can best adapt to grow our business together. -Robert Rheaume, Jimmyjane

“We look at our relationships with retailers and distributors as a partnership,” Rheaume told XBIZ. “We are constantly looking at our customers’ unique needs to help understand how we can best adapt to grow our business together. For us, the feedback loop is paramount for success. We want to understand what is working, who their customer is and what we can do to help drive their business.”

In-store promotions, Rheaume said, will be a high priority for Jimmyjane in 2017.

“It is very important for us to participate in in-store events and trainings as much as possible,” Rheaume asserted. “We have an education team who is solely focused on visiting stores to help train store staff. This is extremely important to us. As a premium brand, it is important we give stores the information and tools to communicate the value and unique features of our products. Our trainings also provide a lot of feedback to us as a brand. Retailers and store staff are constantly interfacing with customers, and the feedback they provide gives us an understanding of responses to our products and the market.”

Rheaume added, “We create a number of different marketing materials, from items that help inform and educate the staff on our products to shelf talkers and POS materials to drive conversion in-store. Point-of-sale materials are very important for us; they can communicate unique features of the brands for customers who may be hesitant to speak to a representative. If we are running a special promotion or have a large partnership underway, we will create customized marketing materials.”

Chad Braverman, COO of Doc Johnson, observed that in 2017, sex toys are being promoted in both mainstream and adult outlets.

“Doc Johnson supports retailers and distributors through a variety of channels, including in-person trainings and in-store events, and external touch points such as trade shows and trade marketing,” Braverman told XBIZ. “We also provide retailers and distributors a comprehensive B2B website, B2BDocJohnson.com, and sell sheets with specific talking points, catalogs and supplements that can be easily downloaded, as well as editorial placements and press releases. Editorial placements in the mainstream media have also become a major boon to in-store sales — especially in today’s climate, where customers are more and more frequently going online to research a product or figure out what they might be interested in, then heading to a brick-and-mortar store to complete their purchase.”

Braverman continued, “In-store trainings and events are particularly important to Doc Johnson, as they not only support the partnership we share with our accounts, but they also allow for one-on-one conversations and demonstrations in a centralized place. Retail staffers often represent a consumer’s first touch point with our brand; so it’s critical they have a full understanding of our brand’s history and key differentiators and, more importantly, the features and benefits of our pleasure products.”

Angela Lieben, marketing and public relations manager for Liberator/OneUp Innovations, said that marketing that focuses on sex education and sexual wellness will be a valuable tool for the Atlanta-based company this year.

“When it comes to selling sexual wellness, knowledge is power,” Lieben told XBIZ. “As the trend in sex education continues rising, the competition between resellers grows. It’s important for manufacturers to reach out to not only customers, but the resellers with engaging material. For 2017, we plan on expanding our reach by providing web-based presentations and videos. We also have plans for developing bi-monthly newsletters for resellers with educational articles that can be passed onto the customer or can be used as training material for their sales staff. Workshops are a valuable resource for specialty boutiques too. We would love to initiate educational programs by collaborating with boutiques. Connecting with their in-house experts and having them present workshops discussing the versatility of Liberator products is a great way to expand sexual wellness education. We want retail staff to feel passionate about Liberator, and the best way to do that is by creating content and material they can relate and connect to.”

way to expand sexual wellness education. We want retail staff to feel passionate about Liberator, and the best way to do that is by creating content and material they can relate and connect to.”

“Social channels allow us to get across the fun nature of our brand,” Sosna told XBIZ. “We push promotions but complement this with relevant content, quizzes and polls that get our audience engaging more with us — which helps us to build our brand’s personality….. We are market leaders and award winners in licensed pleasure products, including the Fifty Shades of Grey Official Pleasure Collection, and the Mötley Crüe, Motörhead and tokidoki pleasure product ranges. These ranges have attracted the attention of international press and have truly propelled us onto a global stage.”

Andy Green, president of Xgen Products, stressed that building and maintaining relationships is one of the most beneficial things a manufacturer can do.

“It is the most important part of our marketing budget to spend real time with customers and be a presence for the brand,” Green told XBIZ. “I encourage all of my sales reps to be a part of their customers’ lives in and outside of the actual business. Each of my reps are empowered to travel and do store events and trainings. Putting a face with the name and company goes a long way. These events are not always about selling; they are also about understanding what the market needs and wants and how we can help that.”

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