Execs of 2015: Retail Industry Leaders Discuss Top Accomplishments

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.

In part, our ability to stay competitive and on the cutting edge comes from listening to the needs of our customers. They are at the forefront of an ever-changing marketplace. -Loren Levy, Classic Erotica

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 Senior Leadership Award:

XBIZ: How did your company stay competitive and on the cutting edge this year?

Brian Herbstman
Sales Manager, East Coast News

“2015 was a year full of advancements at East Coast News, all designed to strengthen our level of commitment to helping our customers succeed. Recognizing the market’s evolution and how retailers have been working to stay ahead has driven many of our decisions. All of our efforts have been to proactively step out in front of the change rather than to simply react. Some of our most noticeable changes have all focused around communication and customer interaction. Starting with our semi-annual shows, our innovative new format has been incredibly successful. We have also adopted a number of digital marketing techniques that allow customers to quickly receive, review and respond to relevant information by e-mail, Web and mobile messaging.”

David “Hui” Newnham
Chief Operating Officer, The Screaming O

“The Screaming O has kept on the cutting edge thanks to a special focus on earning consumer trust through evidence and data-driven decision making. With so much misinformation circulating in the sex toy industry, we’ve decided to do our best to ignore rumors and instead, dedicate ourselves to using materials, shapes, motors, and marketing campaigns that deliver true value to our users. Facts speak louder than sensational claims, which is why we employ an independent laboratory to test our product materials and research peer-reviewed studies and articles regarding the impact that vibration frequency has on physical pleasure. Staying ahead of the competition requires the trust and satisfaction of our end users, which are key factors in the ultimate success of the Screaming O brand.”

Loren Levy
President, Classic Erotica

“Being a leader comes with many obstacles; the challenge is to overcome the obstacles and continually push forward. In part, our ability to stay competitive and on the cutting edge comes from listening to the needs of our customers. They are at the forefront of an ever-changing marketplace. In addition, continually studying the latest trends in ingredients, flavors and fragrances, and package design allows us to stay ahead of the curve. Finally, our movement into contract manufacturing has allowed us further growth and expansion of our product development and manufacturing capabilities for Classic Erotica brands and our private label customers.”

Robert Rheaume
President, Jimmyjane

“This was a big year for the company and all about growth. We have always been focused on bringing quality innovations to the market, but as a company, we moved at a slower pace. This year, we focused on faster development, while maintaining the quality that defines Jimmyjane. In 2015, we were proud to introduce four new items Form 1, Form 5, Form 8 and the Hello Touch X. The Hello Touch X was the first item on the market to put both vibration and electro-stimulation at your fingertips and was also the first introduction to electro-stimulation for many mainstream audiences. We ventured into a new arena of pleasure, which required us to work closely with our retail partners and on the marketing and education. It was a collaborative effort by the entire team.”

Steve Sav
Vice President Of Sales, Pipedream Products

“Pipedream is always on the cutting edge. It actually says so on every box we ship. Innovation, staying on the cutting edge and setting the trends is what Pipedream does. 2015 was another strong year for Pipedream, starting in January when we released our King Cock, iSex and Crush collections. Later in the year, we unveiled Fantasy C-Ringz — the most comprehensive line of cock rings in the world — 12 more glass SKUs in Icicles Gold, and our high-tech Mega-Bators. In October, we debuted the Wanachi Mega Massager, the world’s biggest and most powerful vibrator. Pipedream is constantly creating new and unique products that customers want, and we have the supply chain in place to satisfy the demand. More than that, Pipedream is aggressive with its marketing to ensure that our entire distribution network has the tools they need to move the product.”

Kyle Tutino
Buyer, Honey’s Place

“We stayed competitive this year by diversifying our product selections. This allowed us to broaden our customer base and tap into new marketplaces. We have seen growth opportunities in lingerie, bachelorette, fetish and LGBT products and have been able to capitalize on those segments. In May of 2015, we sealed a deal with Leg Avenue that is going to give us the push to double our lingerie sales from 2014. Also, my buying team is constantly looking at trends in the marketplace and growth opportunities. We are analyzing sales reports and being more data-driven when evaluating our product selections. Through the addition of thorough website data collection, we have been able to refocus on our customers’ needs and wants. The team is also really focusing on strengthening and developing the partnerships we have with our vendors. They are such an integral part of both our successes. Lastly, we stayed competitive with our outstanding customer service. With all of the competition in the marketplace, this is what really sets Honey’s Place apart.”

Adam Grayson
Chief Financial Officer, Evil Angel

“The real answer for us is agility. Technology, consumer trends, and the world in general are changing faster than ever before, and our decision-making has to keep up. We have to be ready and willing to pivot on a quarterly, monthly and even weekly basis. ‘Because that’s how we’ve always done it’ is the worst answer to the question of, ‘Why?’”

Frederic Walme
CEO, Fun Factory

“Fun Factory stayed competitive and on the cutting edge this year by continuing to enforce a strict MAP policy to encourage fair competition across the board. We also limited our online qualified partners to better control pricing and avoid heavy discounts on our products, increasing our retailers’ sell-through. Fun Factory is also committed to maintaining fair wholesale pricing as well as sharing our savings with our partners whenever we can. Marketing campaigns have been a great way for us to increase brand awareness and also, to educate, guide and help consumers to explore while promoting diversity in our community and in general. Finally, performance and innovation were key components in our Der Vibrator G5 line and in the design of all upcoming releases. We look forward to premiering numerous groundbreaking products around the holidays and in early 2016 to celebrate our 20th anniversary and ensure that we stay ahead of the curve, providing relevant solutions to consumers’ needs.”

Jackie White
Vice President, Calexotics

“At CalExotics, we remain focused on the fundamentals that differentiate us amongst our growing competitive set. Great service is a priority to us and our customers. We have increased our sales staff by 33% and elevated the level of support that we provide to our customers. Now, we are committed to visiting more stores to ensure that they are educated about our products and have the right materials, and we work with them to optimize their product selection to increase customer conversion. This increased level of support also allows us to be more attentive to their needs and the needs of consumers, which translates into a customized level of field support and products that are better suited to the market. We recently launched a collection of kits, pumps and premium massagers as a result of the feedback that we received from our customers.”

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