Execs of 2015: Retail Industry Leaders Reveal Top Branding Strategies

XBIZ Premiere is pleased to present “Execs of 2015: The Year in Review.”

Each of the executives we spoke to below has one thing in common — they are among the finalist nominees for the online industry edition of the 2016 XBIZ Exec Awards.

The core of Pipedream is built on our different brands, and we take our branding very seriously. Pipedream packaging is cohesive, from the shapes of the boxes to the actual artwork. -Cheryl Flangel, Pipedream Products

XBIZ captures the thoughts of these influential and motivational leaders as we sought their take of the year 2015.

The following question about the year in review was asked to those running for the Brand Ambassador Of The Year:

XBIZ: What branding opportunities were the most beneficial to your company this year? How did you take advantage of them?

Conde Aumann
Account Executive, The Screaming O

“A key one is our custom graphics program. We have an industrial printer in-house that we can use to make any kind of custom graphics for our customers, and the best part is, they are completely free. Rather than make up thousands of generic one-size posters or signs that rarely fit well in any given store, we chose to offer up custom graphics to anyone interested. In order to get one, all a customer needs to do is send us a few pictures of where they would like the graphic in their store along with the measurements of that area — and their logo if they would like that included — and our wonderful graphics team will work with them to make a unique sign, banner, etc., that is custom made for their store. They look amazing, and from the feedback, our customers are very happy to have this option. We are excited to do more of this with anyone who is interested.”

Cheryl Flangel
Brand Ambassador, Pipedream Products

“The core of Pipedream is built on our different brands, and we take our branding very seriously. Pipedream packaging is cohesive, from the shapes of the boxes to the actual artwork. We also offer an effective sales tool to all of our customers: the Pipedream Planogrammer, which is available on our website. The Pipedream Planogrammer enables the customer to create customized planograms to fit different wall spaces and needs. It is a robust online tool that empowers store owners and merchandisers to present an organized, inviting, easy-to-sell planogram to their retail customers. Pipedream also has the most extensive collection of promotional materials and branding collateral. Between custom signage and wall skins, the ‘Dream Team’ has been working with our retail partners to help set Pipedream sections and wall displays apart from the competition. The response has been very positive, and we look forward to rolling out more branding tools in 2016.”

Kathryn Hartman
Sales and Marketing Director, Nasstoys

“As marketing director of Nasstoys for the last 28 years, I have learned that diversifying our marketing and branding portfolio is the best use of our resources. My choices are based on careful research of analytical data and consumer trends for the profitable consumer demographics. Alexa ranking and statistics for sites and web domains are valuable information resources for us at Nasstoys and are taken into consideration during product development lockdowns in our war room. Names of items, content and text are dissected and analyzed before being executed, based on careful consideration of the social, economic, physical and psychological impact they will have on the end users’ decision to browse, buy or merely move on. These decisions take into consideration the brick-and- mortar as well as web-driven retailers and wholesalers. Industry trade shows are imperative branding functions for Nasstoys, and we focus on simplicity and impact at our manufacturer and distributor shows.”

Ray Hayes
Commercial Director, Lovehoney

“‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has been nothing less than phenomenal for what it has done for the fetish market, as everyone has been a winner. Who does not know the name? I am extremely pleased that Lovehoney has the global distribution rights, as it has allowed the trade sales team to support distributors and retailers to really maximize the FSoG brand opportunity and work with them. Some of the events that took place were unseen or unheard of before: i.e, cinema events, FSoG parties, etc. And latterly, the launch of the Motörhead Pleasure Collection wowed people when we launched in July and continues to do so. It is successful brands like this and not ‘me-too’ products that the consumers want.”

Lucy Vonne D’Olimpio Kendrick
Director of Sales and Education, Evolved Novelties

“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to reach people about our brands. I get to represent not only Evolved, but Adam & Eve and Zero Tolerance as well. All are well-known brands, and even though they are different, they complement each other. Truly, my favorite way of helping people get the concept of what our brands are all about is doing store trainings and speaking directly to consumers. Customer service and trust in our brands are so important to us. It gives me great pride when I get to a training with a skeptical group and leave them fully on board and believing in our products. I love all the feedback we get, and it’s great to gain a rapport with who is selling your products. The Evolved-branded gift bags don’t hurt either.”

Nicole McCree
Product Educator and Sales Executive, Classic Erotica

“One of the most important ways to brand in the adult industry is to educate. Teaching our customer sales staff about our products and the best way to sell them gains customer trust and results in enthusiastic sales. My endeavor is to make the product training fun, interactive and most importantly, informative. Each customer training also gains my knowledge of which products will do best in their stores based off of their demographics plus a host of variables and trends I notice at the retail level. This way, I cater their training to expand their potential. I maximize my opportunities to brand while on the road by leaving an upbeat and lasting impression not only for the products, but also, as a representative, assuring a positive company image. With this in mind, I’m not just Nicole McCree, I’m the Coochy Cream Lady, and the Crazy Girl of Classic Erotica in the most endearing way possible.”

Tori Parker
Director of Business Development, Standard Innovation

“Over the past year, we focused much of our energy on creating in-store brand experiences. My team visited over 1,000 stores across the country. We installed graphics to create more brand space, placed hundreds of slat wall demo displays and assisted with setting up our full product line display towers. The results have been outstanding: in many stores, we’ve increased sales by as much as 400 percent.”

Cassie Pendleton
Marketing Director, Wicked Sensual Care Collection

“Here at Wicked, we take the utmost pride in the products we bring to the market. Our formulas are thoughtful and unique. The most important and beneficial branding opportunity we utilize is our product knowledge training seminars. When we’re able to educate retail associates on the innovations we bring to the lubricant category as a whole, we are able to see the direct correlation to our sales. We also love the opportunity to speak directly to the store staff — the ‘front lines’ — and get feedback that is instrumental as we continue to develop the Wicked Sensual Care Collection.”

Emily Silva
Sales Executive, Sportsheets International

“Sportsheets relaunched our brand Manbound this year. What a great opportunity! It has a new look, new products and a new attitude, all of which were well received in the gay community. We worked closely with our distributors, who reached out to their clients, gay-focused or not. It has been very exciting to be a part of the Manbound relaunch. I know this brand will continue to succeed as we expand the line.”

Robin Stewart
Brand Manager, Jopen

“This year, we are super focused on retailers. Retailers are the direct point of contact for consumers, and it is imperative that we support them any way we can. We’ve created CalExotics Institute, a co-branded online educational portal designed to educate retail staff. JOPEN’s dedication to educating employees is an important step in the sales process. The more comfortable someone is in explaining the features and benefits of a product, the more success of closing the sale rises. We are also providing beautiful point-of-purchase material for retailers so they can prominently display our products in eye-catching ways. Lastly, we are providing signage, brochures, flyers and more.”

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