The panel included Pipedream Products CEO Nick Orlandino, CalExotics founder and President Susan Colvin, Doc Johnson CEO Ron Braverman, The Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano, Sportsheets founder and President Tom Stewart and Dreamgirl International CEO Christopher Scharff.
The audience also contained notable guests such as Nasstoys’ Elliot Schwartz, Moose of Girlfriends Films, Doc Johnson’s Chad Braverman, The Screaming O’s Justin Ross, Peekay’s Phyllis Heppenstall and several members of the Pipedream Products team.
On the topic of the economy, each panel participant noted the different ways the economy has impacted the novelty industry and all agreed innovation in product manufacturing was the key to overcome any sales slumps.
Scharff discussed Dreamgirl International’s newest lingerie designs that incorporate LED lights and products that are light and motion-activated, which are in the works.
The Screaming O also is leading the way with sensual products that appeal to the sense of sight with the O Glow a Go Go line of bullets featuring LED colored lights.
Stewart acknowledged the importance of technologically innovation in sensual products, however noted the importance of not straying from the ultimate act of sexual intercourse.
“Sex is the common the common ground,” Stewart said. “Sportsheets’ positioning products are great, but the most technology we incorporate would be the suction cups in our Sex In The Shower line.
“At Sportsheets we’re low-technology, high-intercourse,” Stewart proclaimed and the audience responded with cheers and applause.
Colvin said that since CalExotics’ inception, the company’s goal has always been to be on the forefront of technology, but keeping items’ ease of use.
On the topic of marketing, everyone on the panel agreed that social media is the gateway to reaching their target consumers, with many of the panelists noting the recent hiring of individuals whose sole purpose is to run multiple social networking sites.
“If you consider the average age of us up here, it’s clear that we’re from a different era,” Stewart said. “We’re not the Twitterettes that are constantly updating our status online. We need that youthful inspiration.”
Stewart even pointed out his shock to learn that a large amount of Sportsheets’ business contacts were established through Facebook.
Among the consumer spending trends discussed, Colvin noted that despite the economy, CalExotics’ new high-end line Vanity by Jopen is selling phenomenally. “Our most popular item in the collection retails for $200.”
Interestingly enough, Colvin added that CalExotics’ low-end offerings are equally as popular.
Caggiano said that consumer spending often is driven by brand recognition.
“Manufacturers put a lot of effort into making great marketing material for retailers and it should be taken advantage of,” Caggiano said, noting that branding speaks volumes to shoppers when they’re making spending decisions.
Pipedream Products also puts a lot of effort into branding its many collections. Orlandino said his dream would be to see a Pipedream store because of its many sub-brands such as Fetish Fantasy, Basix Rubber Works and Icicles.
Price points came up during a discussion regarding recent news involving Wal-Mart adding sex toys to its inventory.
“I think Wal-Mart carrying sex toys is a great thing,” Braverman said. “I think it will make us a better industry as a whole. Regardless of who brings it in, it will always drive our business.”
Among the audiences feedback was a call to action for the manufacturers to come together to launch a sex-positive holiday.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Orlandino opined and the other panelists unanimously agreed.