In 2017, the pleasure products sector is both digital and physical. Pleasure products are sold and promoted online, but they are also sold and promoted in brick-and-mortar stores — and for vibrators, dildos, BDSM toys or sexy lingerie to get from Point A (manufacturers) to Point B (retailers), distributors are needed. A manufacturer that wants to build its brand internationally might look to distributors in North America (Williams Trading Co., Eldorado Trading Company, Honey’s Place) as well as Australia (Calvista) and Europe (Eropartner) for guidance. When manufacturers and retailers are successful, distributors are also successful — which is why helping those who create or sell pleasure products is so important to distributors these days.
A representative for Eldorado, said that retailer education will be a high priority for the Colorado-based distributor in 2017.
The more you know about adult products and how they benefit everyone, the more you know about sexual health and wellness. -Erin Viereck, Williams Trading Co.
“Product and sex education is extremely important,” the company said. “(It is important) to support retailers so they can give their customers a good and informed buying experience. Eldorado puts a huge emphasis on education in our business practices. We focus on product education, (from) internally for our sales team all the way to the retail associate. Eldorado partners with manufacturers to educate our employees on products through weekly in-person presentations. We also work with manufacturers to support in-store events for hands-on training.”
Erin Viereck, marketing and vendor liaison for Williams Trading Co., said that the continued mainstreaming of pleasure products is something for distributors to keep a close eye on in 2017.
“Adult sex education and the adult industry have begun to merge into mainstream,” Viereck told XBIZ. “Retailers used to cater to small niche groups of fetish and/or fantasy customers. Now, we see doctors, therapists and other medical groups utilizing the adult boutiques in their area to help with their patients. If a retailer is able to embrace this merger, they can reach a larger demographic.”
Viereck continued, “Retailers have a huge opportunity to help educate their customers when they integrate adult sex education in their selling. For example, many of our premier partners — including System JO, Aneros, Jimmyjane, CalExotics and LELO — have successfully developed unique product lines meeting the needs of consumers in sexual health and wellness.”
Continuing to expand its educational program Williams Trading University (WTU), Viereck said, is a major focus for Williams Trading this year.
“The more you know about adult products and how they benefit everyone, the more you know about sexual health and wellness,” Viereck explained. “Online courses (at WTU) are available 24 hours/7 days per week, accessed with a simple login account. Each course offers product benefits and features as well as a seminar that explains its importance to a customer, their needs and well-being. Currently, there are 88 courses in its online catalog, and over 48,000 course certifications have been completed across the domestic U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.”
Viereck cited planograms, cross sells and upsells as tools that distributors should encourage retailers to embrace this year.
“Industry experts agree that using planograms as part of a retailer’s merchandising plan improves a category’s performance,” Viereck observed. “Thanks to the planogram, it is possible to place more products on the shelves. There is less out-of-stock, consumer demand is addressed better, and products are represented more professionally. For both the manufacturer and the retailer, planograms will consistently produce a higher ROI on marketing activities, (promote) brand consistency and stimulate consumer buying overall.”
Viereck added, “Cross-selling, upselling and selling accessories is also good for adult retailers because they all contribute to increasing revenue and building profits while improving customer satisfaction.”
Anthony Pingicer, marketing director of East Coast News (ECN), says he expects to see more sexual wellness campaigns and couples-oriented promotions this year.
“Sexual wellness is not the taboo subject it once was,” Pingicer told XBIZ. “So we should see more items making their way to mainstream retailers like CVS, Target, etc.”
One of ECN’s top goals, Pingicer said, is helping retailers keep their customers coming back.
“Marketing materials play an important role in getting shoppers to buy,” Pingicer observed. “Anyone can make a dildo, vibe or lube, but it’s what you do after the fact that gets the shoppers to buy it. A nice in-store display and great packaging add to the perceived value of the product and can really help. Product testers are also important, as they let the shopper try before they buy to make sure they like what they take home.”
According to Eldorado, in 2017, it is essential for manufacturers and retailers to use social media as effectively as possible — and distributors can help them achieve that.
“An online presence is mandatory in today’s digital world,” the Eldorado rep said. “People search online for everything; so if your store has a website or Facebook page, it adds legitimacy to your business and increases your store’s exposure. If you have a professional, shopable website, that expands your exposure even more. Not only can someone find you online, but they can buy from you regardless of their location. Eldorado’s e-commerce service, StoreExtender, is a great way to dip your toes into bringing your store online. With access to all of Eldorado’s inventory, you can sell more without the financial commitment of carrying or buying more. It also enables you to expand your reach beyond your physical location and open it up to customers across the country.”
In 2016, an increasing focus (was) put on education for both products and sexual health. We’ve also seen the continued move of the adult industry to mainstream with more talk about sex in the large mass media. There has also been a shift to create products and packaging that is less intimidating to both men and women. Male toys targeted to straight men are certainly on the rise thanks to more and more buzz in mainstream media about the health benefits of certain products for men. With the release of the movie ‘Fifty Shades Darker,’ we are sure to see a continued interest in people experimenting with BDSM. All of these trends are sure to continue to drive business in 2017.”