LOS ANGELES — It’s been a very busy year for pleasure products giant Good Vibrations. In 2014 alone, the San Francisco-based retailer has opened a new store, sponsored special sex-positive events and has partnered with some regional non-profits to better serve its community.
The company’s out front approach is not new, but rather bolstered by a ramped-up social media push that saw Good Vibrations win the XBIZ Progressive Retailer of the Year award and its president, Joel Kaminsky, receive the prestigious Progressive Leadership Award.
And according to purchasing manager Coyote Days, the company will only continue the plan that’s seen the unique strategy continue to grow for the last 37 years.
Days explained, “Good Vibrations has been active on social media for years. We believe it is an important way to connect with our community on a personal level and it allows us to connect with people in a more immediate and intimate manner. We are more than a retail company. We have an education department, a mission, values... and it's important to us as a company that we continue to connect with people on that level.”
One of the most recent connections was the launch of a series of events centering on its new “Sexy at Every Size” campaign that underscores the point that all body types are worthy of feeling good about themselves.
The campaign evolved from its #PleasureIsYourBirthright movement throughout social media, created in hopes of altering perceptions and reaffirming the idea that pleasure and sexual health are experiences that belong to all genders, orientations and body types. Days said the company wanted to provide a showcase and a selection of products that work better for self-proclaimed “curvy,” “plus size,” voluptuous,” “fat,” “thick” and “chubby” body types.
“We are super proud of our #SexyAtEverySize campaign. It continues the message of our inclusive values but also promotes awareness around the reality of our changing bodies. For many people their bodies will change many times in their life. There is so much commentary on people bodies — much of it unsolicited. It can be difficult to be in your body and feel sexy when it goes against how people are telling you to feel about your body. We know this and feel it's incredibly important to lead the conversation beyond body acceptance to really promote the notion that no matter what size you are, you are sexy,” Days noted.
Like its approach to its customers and community, the internal impetus behind Good Vibrations’ marketing strategies may originate with Kaminsky, but Days notes that the leader encourages communication and engagement from everybody in the company. In fact, most of the campaigns evolve out of internal conversations during meetings.
One of the most successful outcomes, according to Days, was its Strap-On Week and #StrapOnSelfie social media contest held this year in June that let participants take a selfie photo while wearing a strap-on harness and then share the photo via Twitter and Instagram.
“Whenever we do something we try to make it relevant to who we are as a company but also fun for our larger community. If it's not interesting or fun... why would people engage?,” Coyote asked.
With all good intentions aside, the ideas beg the question whether their efforts yield sales — a goal that may not be the primary purpose of the marketing, but a critical business consideration nonetheless.
Days said that type of cause and effect is difficult to gauge, and instead noted that the company has seen an increase in its community engagement, online conversations, as well as one-on-one conversations that have resulted from online activity. “To us, both are equally important.”
The retailer’s in-store events are also a key element in its outreach. What’s worked best for them is also difficult to gauge, according to Days, who said they have such a wide range of events it would almost be like comparing apples to rabbits. “We have seen success with our in-store appearances by [singer] Kandi Burress and [reality star] Coco, which would be expected. But we also draw really good numbers at our book events. What we have found is that when you have people who are invested in an event — it's more successful. If there is just one person promoting you won't have the same reach you could have if there are multiple people promoting (authors, publishers, etc.).”
Another aspect of Good Vibrations' multi-media success is its continuing sex education commitment. Its International Masturbation Month — that the company pioneered 19 years ago — last month featured resident sexologist Dr. Carol Queen who taught Maximizing Masturbation.
And with the burgeoning sexpert field showing no signs of stopping, the company said one of its priorities is to continue sex education, noting that it’s always been at the forefront. Days said, “We have been lucky to have personal relationships with so many amazing educators and, in fact, many of our previous SESAs (sex educator sales associates) have gone on to forge their own unique path in the field of sexuality whether as writers, therapists, performers, directors, educators and more. I can't see why the next 37 years wouldn't be just the same.”
But for now, the company will continue to focus on getting as many people to offer up their #SexyAtEverySize truth and promoting its existing campaigns. Days promises that there’s more to come in 2015. “You'll just have to wait and see what they are.”