Execs of the 2017: Retail Industry Businessmen Talk Influential Trends

Execs of the 2017: Retail Industry Businessmen Talk Influential Trends

As part of XBIZ Premiere’s “Execs of the Year: The Year in Review,” the adult retail industry’s most prolific businessmen share their thoughts on the top trends that propelled business this year.

A natural decision-maker equipped with hard-earned experience and an inherent ability to steer the ship, these exemplary talents define this consummate professional in every area he pursues. With unbound passion this powerful executive was born to lead and driven to succeed.

We have been constantly focusing to find out the reason why our products were successful at selling out. We have discovered that everything was led by a strong aim from women and couples to learn about sexual wellness. -Jerome Bensimon, Vice President of Sales, Satisfyer

Each of the executives we spoke to below is among the finalist nominees for Businessman of the Year in the retail industry edition of the 2018 XBIZ Exec Awards.

What industry trends, innovations were the most influential to your business this year?

Dean Elliott
Founder and CEO, Sliquid

“The past year has seen optimistic advancement in visibility and acceptance for the transgender community. Mainstream adult film companies are casting their first trans performers, while just this week, two transgender candidates were elected to state legislature. The fact is: now is the time for our industry to acknowledge the needs and desires of this growing community. With that in mind, Sliquid has partnered with trailblazing performer Buck Angel to create a trans-focused lubricant product called T-Lube. Not only is T-Lube great for intimacy, it’s functionality addresses the vaginal dryness concerns associated with transitioning. The FTM and MTF communities — as they continue to grow and strengthen in both number, influence and buying power — are becoming a consumer group we will certainly hear more from in the future.”

Steve Sav
Vice President of Sales, Pipedream Products

“We have seen a lot of innovation over the years. I have worked with Pipedream for 10 years, and I am proud to see our products get continuously better year after year. And our design team continues to push the envelope. I think the growth of the men’s category is really interesting. In January, we introduced the PDX Elite line. This line addresses the male need like never before. All packaged in premium, modern packaging, PDX Elite incorporates vibration, suction, rotation and even a new airbag technology for male stimulation. We have seen a lot of products that address the female need, but I think the growth of the men’s category is one of the biggest trends of the year and really opened up a new audience for my business.”

Elliot Schwartz
President, Nasstoys

“The pace of innovation has been so hectic in recent years that it is not a simple task to list which innovations have had the greatest impact on Nasstoys. Technology has leveled the playing field in the pleasure product industry and has been a game changer in the 42 years that I have been blessed to be a part of it. The top list of innovations and trends that have impacted my business within the last year are as follows: technology in general, ecommerce via mobile devices — three-and-a-half billion people have mobile devices and shop with them — marketing and brand promotion via social networks, advances in development of lithium ion batteries, LED and USB manufacturing. Numerous successful, innovative items have been developed by Nasstoys in response to consumer need this year or as a result of new items being unusual, surprising or unexpected. It is my goal moving forward to trust and allow creative input from my team, business partners and colleagues and to embrace ideas from the younger generations because the enthusiasm I see is motivational to me and makes me want to keep growing.”

Rob Novinger
CEO, Channel 1 Releasing

“I think everyone is feeling the oversaturation of the novelty market like we did years ago in the video industry. When it happens, you really have to get creative and focus on quality and innovative ideas. We strive with both our Rascal and Boneyard products, geared toward men. If we are just doing what everyone else is doing, don’t bother; if we can put a new twist on it — an improvement, a design fix or an upgrade from everything else out there — we do it. We have created a few totally unique products like Skwert, Daisy and the Boneyard Lube Injector and are excited to introduce more of our innovative ideas and products.”

Jerome Bensimon
Vice President of Sales, Satisfyer

“We have been constantly focusing to find out the reason why our products were successful at selling out. We have discovered that everything was led by a strong aim from women and couples to learn about sexual wellness. We’ve taken that path and marketed our brand in this direction, from over 45,000 samples given away to retailers’ teams to our recent investment in the Elle USA partnership and advertising. And much more is to come. Taking the lead in sexual wellness is our most important plan for our business; the market is ready.”

Joel Kaminsky
President, Good Vibrations

“While it may sound odd, an influencing effect for me has been the sales struggle that retailers in our industry have faced both online as well as brick and mortar. Amazon’s huge influence has had a major effect: same/next day delivery, etc. Longtime industry stalwarts have filed bankruptcy as well as numerous competitor store closings. Add to this the rising wage and COL scale. This has made us realize all that much more that scale and efficiency are the profit delivery systems that will be our salve to stave off financial problems and ensure necessary revenue stream. To that end, we made a decision to acquire a major competitor this past August for that very reason.”

Ruben Deitz
CEO, Shots America

“We do not focus on trends. We try to set trends, be innovative and think outside the box with everything from product design to sales and marketing. As customers and buyers continue to do more online research, top performing organizations continue to integrate sales and content marketing. The goal is to ensure that when customers search for your product, they will find your content to address their questions. According to a recent Forbes study, video is becoming a critical source of information for executives. More than 80 percent said they are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. Three-quarters, 75 percent, of executives surveyed said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly; more than half, 52 percent, watch work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly. We do focus on statistics and analytics, especially in sales and marketing.”

Steve Callow
CEO, Perfect Fit Brand

“I think the industry is continuing to expand in positive ways, where we have more upscale branding of products in general and more positive reception from the general public. It’s been a great year for innovation by Perfect Fit. We have seen an extremely positive response to our Buck Angel line of products. The market reception has been fantastic, and we are continuing to expand that line with new products, including the Fun Boy line of realistic soft strap-ons, packers, sleeves. Our newest patent-pending innovation is The Bumper, already making a name for itself in pre-launch. We are excited by the potential this product has to turn discomfort into pleasure.”

Elan Rofe

“Success in the adult novelty marketplace is not driven by influential trends. While these trends may create temporary sales increases, the trendy SKUs are normally quick to die once they hit the marketplace. Innovation and new developments are key to the success of any company looking to differentiate themselves from me-too competitors purchasing readily available products from manufacturers overseas. For our company, SKU rationalization and elimination has been just as important as introduction of new products. With an influx of items coming from almost every manufacturer at every show, it makes it even more difficult for the distributors to focus and educate retailers. Many companies concentrate on creating lines with too many SKUs and colors as opposed to creating single best sellers with long shelf lifespans that can really make an impact on a store or website’s sales. Our focus is to stock only core, great-quality bestsellers, and our goal is to bring only relevant product to market and provide our customers with true value on new products that turn and contribute to their bottom line.”

Tom Stewart
Founder and CEO, Sportsheets International

“To continue connecting with our customers and the end consumer, one of our biggest initiatives has been reaching out through social media. Our goal has always been to keep couples connected, and this is a great way to do so and stay current with modern forms of communication. The feedback we get from these avenues — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — is phenomenal. Our mission is to keep couples connected, and this is just one of the many ways we do that. We have always believed that sexual connection is fundamental to the overall health of relationships. Now, we are reaching a bigger and broader audience.”