More and more, manufacturers of sex toys are marketing themselves not only from an erotic standpoint, but also from the standpoint of health and wellness and sex education. It isn’t uncommon for today’s pleasure product manufacturers to address topics like pelvic health, prostate wellness, STI prevention or BDSM safety — and quite often, they are joining forces with healthcare professionals and sex educators.
Susan Colvin, founder and CEO of CalExotics, asserted that her company (which she founded in 1994) has been a leader in touting the health and wellness benefits of sex toys.
Once we are able to have open and honest dialogue about sex toys — which, let’s face it, most of us now use — we will be able to embrace the concept that masturbation is healthy and sexual pleasure is critical to health and wellbeing.
“Sex education plays a huge role in our business,” Colvin told XBIZ. “CalExotics was really an innovator and helped put a focus on sexual wellness in the pleasure product industry. From the very beginning, my team and I understood the importance of educating people about the sexual health and wellness benefits associated with sex toys.”
Colvin added, “We have a team of sex educators that we work with. They help us position our company as the leader in sexual health and wellness. We have built our brand to be a resource to the public. Our in-house team and sex education partners write articles and blogs, create videos, attend events, are on social media and more.”
Alicia Sinclair, founder and president of b-Vibe and Le Wand, noted that sexual wellness education has been a high priority for her brands. In fact, Sinclair herself is a certified sex educator.
“I believe many of us share the opinion that comprehensive, pleasure-based sex education wasn’t something we received during our time in school,” Sinclair told XBIZ. “We’ve grown up relying on the basic lessons of reproduction, advice from friends, things we read or saw in the media — and often, through pornography, which means that most people don’t know a whole lot about their body or its pleasure zones and most likely, have a hard time communicating about sex in general. This a key driving factor of why I strive to blend education into our marketing and branding.”
Sinclair continued, “Because sex education is an integral part of our company mission, we take advantage of every opportunity to provide and support education. Every b-Vibe product includes a copy of our ‘Guide to Anal Play.’ We release bimonthly e-mails from both Le Wand and b-Vibe that are always education-based; we offer sex education classes to our retailers, sponsor many sex educators and sex-positive education events, and provide a wealth of information on bVibe.com and LeWandMassager.com.”
Richie Harris, CEO of pjur Group USA, pointed out that extensive product testing has been vital to pjur’s image as a health-conscious manufacturer of personal lubricants.
“Information is power,” Harris told XBIZ. “When it comes to health and sexual health, our brand takes this as a top priority. It is a criterion for all of our formulations. This means, first and foremost, what ingredients are used — and then, testing each ingredient for safety solely and in combination, as some ingredients can interact.”
Harris added, “Tests include toxicity. This is an important test: toxic vs. non-toxic. There are no levels of toxicity; products are simply toxic or non-toxic. All pjur products are proven and tested non-toxic.”
Harris explained that at pjur, “Our salespeople and partners are sexual health experts themselves — especially in the lubricant class. We educate educators. Sex toys, if safe for internal use, allow people to explore the erogenous self. If used properly and fully realized, it opens the door to a much better sex life.”
Lubricants, Harris observed, “are Class II medical devices. The product goes inside your body. That, in itself, is the reason for manufacturers to be savvy.”
Adam Lewis, CEO of Hot Octopuss, stressed that the pleasure products space in general benefits from sex-positive education.
“At Hot Octopuss, we work with many sexual wellness experts — including therapists, doctors, campaigners and bloggers — running focus groups to support product design and development and regularly consulting them on our campaigns and product pipeline,” Lewis told XBIZ. “We believe that this is one of the things that sets us apart from other companies. Once we are able to have open and honest dialogue about sex toys — which, let’s face it, most of us now use — we will be able to embrace the concept that masturbation is healthy and sexual pleasure is critical to health and wellbeing.”
Lewis added, “Hot Octopuss is committed to not only creating products that allow people to radically improve masturbation and sex, but to campaigning for culture change to make masturbation and the use of sex toys more socially acceptable and better understood as a key aspect of wellness. We recently launched a pop-up orgasm shop in New York to encourage women to embrace their sexuality and improve their orgasms, providing sessions with a Hot Octopuss orgasm stylist and gifting our new women’s toy the Queen Bee; it was a huge success with queues around the block. Attitudes are changing, and we are proud to be part of this.”
Kimberly Scott Faubel, director of operations for Clandestine Devices (which manufactures the Mimic Vibrator), emphasized that discussing sexual health should be a high priority for anyone in the pleasure products sector.
“Retailers and manufacturers would be wise to put sexual wellness at the forefront of all of their strategies,” Faubel told XBIZ. “People are becoming much more aware of the effects products have on our bodies, and this is great news. Our industry is no exception, and we have the opportunity to provide safe products with the additional advantage of opening up a dialogue that was once taboo. People don’t typically mind discussing their nutritional practices or why they opted for one particular baby stroller over another, but what we use to get ourselves off has not been a widely accepted brunch topic — at least not for most people.”
Faubel continued, “But just like any other potentially controversial topic, the more we discuss it, the less shameful we feel about it — and the safer we can demand our products become. The entirety of sexual wellness and sex-positivity will benefit all of us in business because it will help build trust with our consumers, and they will be able to rely on us and our retailers for guidance in this portion of their lives.”