XBIZ Premiere is pleased to present its annual “Execs of the Year” special issue — a showcase of the trends and strategies that drove success in adult retail in 2017.
The industry's unsung heroes, account executives, serve as the helpful face of a company and play a key role in any business’ success.
Understanding and being able to meet the needs of online shoppers is becoming one of the most valuable assets in today’s fast-evolving digital landscape. -Gabe Segura, Brand Ambassador, Doc Johnson
Each of the account executives we spoke to is among the finalist nominees for the retail industry edition of the 2018 XBIZ Exec Awards. Representing a variety of the industry’s most respected brands, the Account Executive of the Year nominees share their take on the most profitable trends that drove business in 2017.
What trends were most valuable to business this year?
Account Executive, The Screaming O
“We’ve really responded to the trend of savvy consumerism. These days, our customers want affordable quality — more bang for their buck. So often, other companies’ products include unnecessary bells and whistles. But more isn’t always more, especially when a toy is more expensive but less effective. Today’s discerning shoppers are looking for products that make sense, and are accessible without sacrificing quality. We’ve been able to fill that need with our line of affordable rechargeables, which we’ve built with an eye toward streamlined functionality from durable, body-safe materials.”
International Account Manager, Blush Novelties
“Our No. 1 mission at Blush is to bring consumers fun and innovative pleasure products at an affordable price. So, a key factor is simply listening to feedback from our customers and getting a better understanding of the needs of our market. Being humble and accepting constructive criticism helps us grow and flourish. Having a healthy attitude towards the curveballs thrown at me and maintaining a state of gratitude has also helped my business grow tremendously. I also enjoy using social media to connect with new customers, stay on top of what’s new and maintain constant contact with my beloved industry cohorts.”
Customer Product Specialist, Sportsheets International
“The bondage category as a whole has continued to trend up this year. However, a couple of products stood out: spreader bars and tail butt plugs. These trends made for a nice increase in sales of our Sportsheets and Edge Expandable Spreader Bars and the Midnight Bunny Plugs. Sportsheets has also seen an increasing trend and interest in our Edge brand, which contains high-quality leather products at an affordable price. Lastly, we filled a demand with our latest Sportsheets crops. They sold out before we started shipping.”
International Account Executive, CalExotics
“For me, the trend I’ve found most valuable this year is the broadening acceptance of sex toys and the effect that has on our brand. CalExotics is a global brand with products in many countries across the globe. However, there are still many places where these types of products are not accepted or even are forbidden. But with changes in the way people see and talk about adult toys, a cultural shift is happening. I have found many more places are opening their doors to us, and this is incredible. Our products are designed to bring happiness and joy to people’s lives, and it’s amazing to be able to do that across the world.”
Brand Development Manager, Lovehoney
“We found retailer support to be a very valuable trend to business this year. Lovehoney Trade is always going to the extra inch to provide our customers with more access to information and making it easy for everyone to sell our brands. We are continuously updating our Lovehoney Trade website with key information on our collections, videos and high-res imagery to download. We provide detailed training documents for all our brands for our customers to use, and in addition to the great products we provide, we have ranges of supporting POS. We are always getting complimented by our customers for those extra bits of help and information that we provide on our products.”
Brand Ambassador, Doc Johnson
“Understanding and being able to meet the needs of online shoppers is becoming one of the most valuable assets in today’s fast-evolving digital landscape. We’re finding that one trend that has a huge influence — in our industry in particular — is the importance of optimizing product descriptions and product content for digital marketplaces. Since online consumers of pleasure products cannot return a product they do not like after using it, they are going to be even more reliant upon the information available on the product page and expect product information to be accurate, rich and complete if they are going to proceed with their purchase. In fact, we’re finding that detailed product descriptions can have a bigger influence on purchase decisions than reviews or even pricing. In order to fully maximize ecommerce returns for our retail and distributor partners’ digital sales efforts, we are upping our game and investing more time into creating detailed product content that truly meets the needs of their online customers.”
Senior Account Executive and Buyer, Entrenue
“Coloring books and pencils are hot. From laugh-out-loud funny to sexy positions, we have something to keep every budding artist inspired. Interest in the 45-plus exclusive brands that Entrenue offers as well as interest in new and emerging brands also continue to be ongoing trends. Their innovation and creativity is really driving us all into an exciting direction with fresh ideas and different ways to build intimacy. All of these things keep our business fun and exciting while allowing our customers to differentiate themselves with a unique selection.”
National Sales Manager, Paradise Marketing
“The trends I feel were most valuable to business this year are sexual health and wellness awareness. Not enough people are educated on health and wellness; therefore, proper training of staff is extremely important. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. Tight inventory control is also important; it is important for distributors and stores to select a variety of quality products over quantity in each category … We are here to service the customer; that is why education on the products and having a good variety of products on hand will enable you to reach more demographics and genres of people.”
Sales Executive, Pipedream Products
“A stand-out trend this year was definitely the emergence of luxury pleasure products geared towards men. Finally! Our Pipedream team was able to assist our loyal customers and consumer fans with the launch of our premium PDX Elite Collection, which introduced innovations and technology that was entirely new to the market such as our PDX Elite Cock Compressor Vibrating Stroker with airbag technology and our PDX Elite Blowjob Power Pump that offered automatic milking masturbation. Another big trend was products that featured ergonomic designs. Our Pipedream team introduced the Jimmyjane Love Pods with designs that easily roll, and the Jimmyjane Evoke and Rabbit collections — both of which featured EZ Grip Handles. That’s one thing I love about Pipedream: as trends consistently change, Pipedream continues to offer the latest designs and technology that consumers are searching for.”
Senior Sales Executive, Shibari Wands
“Key trends that proved most valuable for us as a brand included the new simulated oral suction category, expanded Kegel sets and price point-driven accessories.”