trends

Sex Toy Distributors Bolster Retailer Success With Sex Education

Alex Henderson

Adult sex education is not only valuable for consumers of sex toys and pleasure products — it is also valuable for companies that are manufacturing, distributing or selling them. Knowledge is power in the sex toys/pleasure products market, and when distributors do their part to educate retailers about pleasure products and the role they can play in sexual health and wellness, it is a win-win situation for everyone concerned.

Larry Garland, CEO and founder of Eldorado Trading Co., said that more and more, consumers are seeking information about sexual health and wellness — and it is imperative for distributors to help make retailers as informed as possible.

When your staff is well educated, they feel confident and proud in the work that they do. And that means they are more engaged with customers — and naturally, sales go up. It’s a simple equation in today’s adult retail world. -Ducky DooLittle, Komar Company

“It’s so incredibly important for retailers to have that essential sexual wellness knowledge,” Garland told XBIZ. “If they are not equipped with the knowledge to answer a question a customer might have accurately and tactfully, they can leave that customer with a bad experience — (thus) losing a potential sale, losing the opportunity for future sales — and leave that customer feeling like their sexual desires are abnormal or unusual.”

Garland added, “Most retailers that are enjoying success in today’s complicated market are embracing sexual health topics at some level. Brick-and-mortar stores in particular see that customers are more frequently asking sexual wellness questions.”

As part of the educational process, Eldorado has formed an alliance with the Rhode Island-based Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH). Together, Eldorado and CSPH launched an educational program for retailers called Elevate U, which Garland said “focuses on a variety of sexual health topics so participating retailers can have the essential knowledge to answer sexual health questions accurately.”

“Eldorado’s commitment to education sparked the partnership with the CSPH,” Garland explained. “The CSPH has partnered with Eldorado for a couple years now at major industry events like the International Lingerie Show, giving customers the opportunity to get any questions they have — or their customers’ — answered about sexual health and wellness. They have also been a mainstay at Eldorado’s in-house events, giving attendees the same opportunity. Eldorado customers are able to get the CSPH to come to their stores and talk to their retail staff or customers for trainings, or to host a ladies night.”

Kira Manser, executive director for the CSPH, told XBIZ, “A lot of times, people separate sexual health from sexual pleasure. Commonly, people see sexual health as being about STIs, pregnancy and/or sexual function, while pleasure is about orgasms, play and focusing on the person's experience. The CSPH’s work is to integrate these two areas because they are so deeply connected. People’s ability to experience pleasure is an important part of their sexual health and wellness. Retailers and distributors need to be savvy about sexual wellness because that’s the business they’re in whether they recognize it that way or not.”

Williams Trading Co. has one of the most comprehensive online programs for educating retailers on sexual topics and pleasure products: Williams Trading University (WTU), which currently offers 80 courses in its catalog. According to Erin Viereck, marketing and vendor liaison for Williams Trading Co., “More than 43,000 course certifications have been completed across the domestic U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico” through WTU.

Viereck told XBIZ, “Upon completing a course, the user takes a quiz certifying their newfound knowledge and is rewarded with a downloadable certificate. Free premiums, samples and special offers are being made by select participating vendors. This feature is an added benefit to the retailer, as their employees can try a product, become a consumer and ultimately recommend it to their customers ... The more you know about adult products and how they benefit everyone, the more you know about sexual health and wellness.”

Viereck continued, “Manufacturing adult products is a$15 billion industry and growing, with an average of 22,000 products circulating on adult store shelves. 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.”

Charlotte Lopez, district manager for the Love Stuff N More chain, said that WTU has been a blessing for retailers. “Manufacturers often partner with distributors to schedule classes and training for retailers as well as the sales people,” Lopez told XBIZ. “That one-on-one training is so valuable because we are able to share this information and help create an adult wellness boutique atmosphere. Prominently located on Love Stuff N More’s main entry wall are products designed to maintain and improve reproductive health, especially if that person is suffering from an illness such as breast or prostate cancer. With the in-store training my staff receive, they are unafraid to talk about sexual health and reproductive illness to anyone. That has definitely increased my sales.”

Since founding the Komar Learning Center two years ago, the Komar Company has addressed a variety of educational topics — and Ducky DooLittle, as a sex educator for the Komar Learning Center, has taught more than 60 online classes for retailers.

DooLittle told XBIZ, “The classes (at Komar) vary from product knowledge, pleasure anatomy, (and) sexual response (to) how to care for customers in nonjudgmental ways. We go deeper too. Based on demand from retailers, we have had trainings on sex and disability, sex after cancer, sex and unwanted pain, sex after hysterectomy and how to answer questions about erectile dysfunction. We also get guest educators and manufacturer reps to join us.”

Educating retailers, DooLittle asserted, is crucial in 2016.

“Consumers are well informed these days,” DooLittle stressed. “If a customer comes in and they feel they know more about a product than your staff members, they lose faith in you. Your staff needs to understand basic pleasure anatomy, sexual response and how it relates to individual products. On the flip side, when your staff is well educated, they feel confident and proud in the work that they do. And that means they are more engaged with customers — and naturally, sales go up. It’s a simple equation in today’s adult retail world.”

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