Every October, there is an explosion of pink ribbons as the nation honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created in 1985 as a collaborative effort between the American Academy of Family Physicians, AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation, CancerCare, Inc., and various sponsors. Today it has grown to include a partnership of national public service organizations, government agencies, and professional medical associations that work together to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Historically, the adult industry, brick-and-mortar retailers in particular, are not encouraged to embrace any type of public support or charitable giving on the retail floor, even related to boobs! This lack of confidence, or rather, acceptance of the adult industry as bona fide charitable donors with the ability to reach large markets has been an unfortunate miss by the mainstream marketplace. The association between adult products and supporting a non-profit organization is like apples and oranges; if anything; mainstream nonprofits preferred a large, empty distance between themselves and the adult industry.
We came up with Inspire My October — the first-ever opportunity for the adult industry to publicly support a mainstream non-profit organization that embraces the adult retail community.
Until now. Because, for the first time ever, the mainstreaming of adult manufacturing includes designs with 100 percent sexual health and wellness intent. Why? Because sexual health and wellness matters. Fifty-two percent of all adult brick-and-mortar customers are women and breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About one in eight women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram — the screening test for breast cancer — can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat. (http://health-finder.gov)
Breast cancer impacts all women. And, it impacts our quality of life. It has an effect on our overall health and wellness and directly contributes to self-image and confidence. It helps to shape how we view and enjoy intimacy, affecting our relationships and families. In short, women’s sexual health impacts every part of a woman’s life. It’s inextricably linked to our well-being in every way. Despite this, most healthcare providers receive very little training when it comes to sexuality, and even less in the area of female sexual health. So where do they go seeking information and advice? The adult retailer.
We’ve all seen sex toys, lubes and lotions creep onto mainstream e-commerce websites over the past decade. It’s common for online shoppers to get a little titter of excitement and a nervous giggle when they scroll through the product description. But, adult products like lubes, vibrators and cock rings have never been given any mainstream cred other than allowing for orgasm or instant gratification, until now.
Manufacturing adult products is a $15 billion industry (and growing) with an average of 22,000 products circulating on adult store shelves. And, as the marketing and vendor liaison for Williams Trading Co., one of the largest adult distributors in the U.S., I gets to view them all.
In recent years, terms like “health and wellness” and “all-natural ingredients” have been used more and more in connection with sex toys. Sexual wellness is increasingly recognized as an important part of a person’s overall health — and that is absolutely reflected in the sex toy market. In fact, at the retail chain Fascinations headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., buyer Keri Birchby told XBIZ that the company is focusing on the growth of their health and wellness categories. That includes active wear, supplements and the most up-to-date products for improving sexual health.
So if adult retailers are growing their sexual health and wellness real estate on the retail floor, are mainstream health and wellness nonprofits growing their acceptance of partnering with the adult industry? They are now.
In 1991, a small group of women living in Philadelphia led by Dr. Marisa Weiss sought out information designed to help them after completing primary treatment for breast cancer only to realize that existing resources were either inadequate or not available at all. To address this, they created a place where women in similar situations could connect with each other to share accurate and easy-to-understand information in a supportive and caring environment. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) was founded.
Since then, LBBC experienced tremendous growth with a reach that now extends far beyond “The City of Brotherly Love” and into every state of the country while connecting over 500,000 people a year to trusted breast cancer information and a community of support.
LBBC recognized the disconnect between the effects of breast cancer treatment on a woman’s intimate relationships and the treasure trove of information the adult industry has on improving one’s intimacy. According to LBBC CEO Jean Sachs, “Various types of breast cancer treatment (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy) can affect a woman’s sexual wellness.
Many factors can come together to reduce sexual desire, including fatigue, menopausal symptoms, pain during sexual activity, decreased ability to achieve arousal and lubrication and breast cancer itself.” LBBC was approached by CalExotics, the largest woman-owned global manufacturer of adult products that led to the creation of the Inspire line of products.
The Inspire collection has nine styles — two Kegel exercisers, two wands, two arousers, a dilator kit, a panty teaser and breast massager. All Inspire products are waterproof and made of premium silicone that is body safe, unscented and phthalate-free. The powered items in Inspire feature 10 functions of vibration and are USB rechargeable. Each product offers unique benefits to women in the form of sexual health and sexual satisfaction. Sexual health is a large component of women’s overall health and is vital for overall well-being. Inspire products are designed to help improve vaginal strength, decrease physical discomfort during intercourse, help strengthen pelvic floor muscles, increase sexual stimulation and frequency of orgasms.
At Williams Trading we watch the trends, review the products and listen to the back stories to determine the best placement, best marketing strategy and best fit for the adult retailer. The newly created partnership between CalExotics and LBBC combined with the growing sexual health and wellness trend in both mainstream and adult manufacturing has the makings of an industry game changer. That’s how we came up with Inspire My October — the first-ever opportunity for the adult industry to publicly support a mainstream non-profit organization that embraces the adult retail community.
Williams Trading Company is taking the lead promoting this new adult/mainstream partnership with the creation of Inspire My October — an opportunity for the adult retailer to proudly participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Full support from August to October is available to help adult retailers take advantage of this selling opportunity while supporting a great cause.
During the month of August, only Williams Trading had the exclusive release of two new Inspire items, the Gyrating Wand and the Vibrating Tulip Wand. The Gyrating Wand offers soothing massage that is a gateway to advanced pleasure exploration and plays a critical role in stress relief and relaxation. The Vibrating Tulip Wand may promote vaginal health by increasing blood flow and sexual stimulation. Its flexing and bending design is perfect for intimate exploration, plus, the bulbous tip is designed for beginner Kegel exercise.
In September, Williams Trading Co is hosting an Inspire My October in-store merchandising contest. Retailers are encouraged to send in pictures of their Breast Cancer Awareness support using all the tools provided to them. The winning store will receive a gift basket of CalExotics products for all store employees.
We at Williams Trading want our adult retailers to go full-on pink during October so we’ve provided the tools and material they’ll need to be successful. When retailers load up on the Inspire line, they can receive free LBBC T-Shirts for staff, LBBC swag and educational material relating to breast cancer support and sexual health. And, CalExotics is offering free pink bullets as an Inspire gift with purchase.
Also in September, Williams Trading University (WTU), Williams Trading’s award-winning e-Learning program is releasing a free training module on the entire Inspire line of products. Retailers can learn how to talk about each feature and function that is intended to improve a woman’s sexual health and wellness. This free online course will give our retailers the correct information to have important conversations on the retail floor that increase their sales.
“Any retailer who participates in Inspire My October is invited to submit their photos and inspirational stories to Living Beyond Breast Cancer,” says Christina Meehan, development projects coordinator at Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
“During the month of October, Williams Trading is preparing an Inspire My October promotional blitz,” says Scott Dantis, director of sales and marketing. “Our sales team will collect photos and stories to share with all of you. Our website, www.williamstradingco.com will turn pink for that month and we encourage our adult industry partners to do the same.”
“Cal Exotics donates a portion of the net profit generated from Inspire sales,” CalExotics’ marketing director said. “The more retailers who participate, the more support we can give our friends and family affected by breast cancer. This is such a win-win for our industry and for the nonprofit sector.”