Exporting Excitement

Ariana Rodriguez
World domination is the ultimate goal for any powerful brand. When it comes to sex toys, wideranging international tastes can open doors to success not available in the homeland as well as inspire new product designs. Transcending borders to reach new customers is nothing new among U.S.- based sex toy manufacturers, who bend over backwards to cater to their fans overseas.

Vanessa Pellegrini, Topco Sales’ director of international sales and product development, said the company has established strong penetration in Europe, Australia, South America and North America, and has been shipping to international distributors and private label customers since 1975.

Similarly, longstanding manufacturer Pipedream Products also has been distributing products internationally for more than two decades.

“Over the years we’ve been working on infiltrating the global market and are happy to report that we are now in all of them,” Pipedream Products CEO Nick Orlandino said. Orlandino noted a desire to continue to grow, and the company recently announced it is seeking new European distribution channels. According to Orlandino, time presents the biggest challenge within international business.

“Shipping can range anywhere from three to six weeks depending on the market,” Orlandino said. “So you have to have a constant flow of products all over the world at any given time to keep up with demand.” Pellegrini said working with customs and individual countries’ regulations also is complicated.

“For example, in Australia adult DVDs need to be registered and they are very strict in the types of content that can be shown,” she said. “We have a handful of products that include softcore DVDs and getting them shipped sometimes presents obstacles.”

Annalee Wooster, Topco’s copy writer and video content producer, said that the company caters to international customers by tailoring products to their needs.

“We follow all directives, which are different for the U.S., Canada and Europe, so that our products can cross all borders and sell everywhere,” Wooster said. “Some products are created for just one market and that product may include translations of all copy into just that specific language.”

Wooster added that generally Topco’s products feature descriptive copy written in English with a two-word translation in six languages.

“Most ‘complicated’ items will include a picture or diagram showing how to use it, alleviating the need for translations,” she said. “Ideally a person can tell exactly what a toy is just by looking at the package, no matter what language they speak.”

Orlandino also noted language barriers as problematic.

“English-speaking countries still tend to do better with our product than non-English speaking countries, but we are seeing growth in non-English speaking markets,” Orlandino said.

Desiree Duffie, Topco’s director of marketing and public relations, said rechargeable and corded products are among Topco’s international bestsellers.

“The Caesar 2.0 is available in 220V and we’ve heard of brothels in Amsterdam supplying the product in rooms to be used by their adventurous clientele,” Duffie said.

Pipedream Products also enjoys success overseas; Orlandino attributed 35 percent of its business to international customers.

In July, Austin-based Interactive Life Forms, the makers of the Fleshlight, announced the launch of Fleshlight International, S.L., based in Seville, Spain, which is to be the company’s European arm.

Prior to the launch of Fleshlight International, the company’s proprietary products shipped to European customers from the U.S., however, Fleshlight is in the process of duplicating its facilities’ operations and manufacturing practices in Europe — making Fleshlight International a company operated by Europeans for Europeans.

Fleshlight said it also considers its international audience when developing new products. This month, Fleshlight streets The Private Collection — a new Fleshlight line molded after the international stars of Private DVDs. The starlets include Aletta Ocean, Tarra White, Lucy Belle and Black Angelika.

Fleshlight Executive Vice President Brian Shubin said that the new Fleshjack Boys also were added because of the huge demand from the company’s European B2B customers.

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