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Meet the 2024 Class of Up-and-Coming Pleasure Brands to Watch

Meet the 2024 Class of Up-and-Coming Pleasure Brands to Watch

With each new year that rolls in, new pleasure brands emerge, and 2024 is no exception. Already this year, a slew of new entrants are rapidly gaining traction and recognition via social media, among retailers and distributors — and most importantly, end consumers.

Behind each new brand in this year’s roundup of up-and-comers is a story of the perseverance, pure gut instinct and/or sheer chutzpah that drove its launch, particularly amid today’s challenging economic times. Many started as passion projects, aiming to bring to life a novel idea or innovative solution to satisfy a need, fill a gap or simply make a welcome addition to the ever-evolving pleasure industry.

The mainstreaming and increasing popularity of cannabis products has inspired the launch of many new brands.

The mainstreaming and increasing popularity of cannabis products has inspired the launch of many new brands. Among them is the Sara Jay Self-Care Collection from longtime popular adult performer Sara Jay.

“As a long-standing cannabis enthusiast, my interest in CBD products grew once they became more available and I discovered the relieving benefits of CBD,” she says. “I started to use them myself, then quickly found out that my family and friends were all finding relief using CBD too. I even had friends giving it to their grandparents and their dogs! Observing its positive effects convinced me of its breakthrough potential in pain relief, sleep and self-care, motivating me to get involved. Sara Jay products begin with top-tier organic ingredients, then enhance their potency with the addition of CBD.”

In creating the line, Jay says, she also drew upon her background in the adult industry.

“I aimed to create products tailored to the preferences of my fan base,” she explains. “The Sara Jay Self-Care Collection offers products that help with enduring challenges but also enhance the good times, which is why our mantra became ‘For Long Days, and Even Longer Nights.’”

Elevatem founder Devinne M. has also become passionate about cannabis crossing over into the pleasure products industry.

“The goal is to help more people have pleasurable intimate moments with themselves and partners with the use of cannabis,” she says. “This is a new and emerging category in both the adult and cannabis industries, and I felt there was a lack of cannabis-infused intimate products that people can use to elevate playtime.”

A similar impetus also ignited the launch of the Spark Sensations brand.

“Spark Sensations was inspired by a desire to address sexual experiences in a fun and experimental manner,” says Liana Goldberger, the brand’s co-founder. “We wanted to create something that includes different paths to pleasure by combining the best of both worlds: sex and cannabis. Several developments in the cannabis world, including various legislation, created openings in the market and we saw more products emerging aimed at solving different needs. Our generation’s immense distractions and busy lifestyle can often push sexual moments to the back end of our ‘to do’ list, so we wanted to create an experience for enhancing these special moments by giving them the aura they deserve.”

Other innovators have gotten creative due to not seeing themselves or their particular desires represented. Demon Kat co-founder Rob Reimer says he and fellow industry veteran Buck Angel felt called to launch their brand to address the need for products that promoted diversity in sexual identity. Meanwhile, CockBlock Toys founder Justin Depow created CockBlock, the first product specifically for frot (penis-to-penis contact), for gay men and transgender people seeking an alternative to penetrative sex.

“I came up with the idea over 20 years ago when I went looking for a product like CockBlock and couldn’t find one,” Depow recalls. “I just assumed an adult toy that facilitates and enhances two people rubbing their penises together had to exist.

“When I was younger, I had a medical condition that made penetrative sex difficult for me, so I started thinking about solutions for alternate forms of intimate gay sex,” he explains. “Even after my condition was successfully treated, I found myself still wanting a face-to-face, satisfying sexual option when penetrative sex wasn’t convenient, and I frequently heard this need echoed by others in the gay community.”

Others saw opportunities to forward the march of progress, or simply to help bring pleasure to the masses. Melanie Cristol is the founder and CEO of Lorals, an imaginative safer-sex product that has reinvented dental dams, which haven’t been fundamentally updated in over 40 years.

“While there are thousands of condom varieties in every color, size and shape, up until now, the only option for protecting people with vulvas during oral sex was the unimaginably awkward dental dam,” Cristol says. “Lorals are worn like briefs and are hands-free, so they don’t need to be held in place while giving or receiving oral sex. Stretchy, fashionable and ultrathin to allow for maximum sensation, Lorals prevent skin-to-skin contact while still maximizing pleasure, comfort and fun.”

When it comes to filling gaps in the market, perhaps the most enduring challenge has been the pleasure gap. India-based TTK Healthcare aims to bring women’s pleasure to the forefront with its new brand, MsChief.

“Today in India, women have broken barriers in terms of pay parity and education, but the pleasure gap is something which needs to be addressed, equally and openly,” says TTK’s Rashmi. “The purpose of MsChief is to address this inequality in the bedroom and close the pleasure gap for good.”

Natalie Annis, CEO of the playful vibrator brand Like a Kitten, also wants women to “discover, pamper, love and explore their true selves.” In particular, she is interested in addressing the pleasuring wants and needs of a new generation, which is why the brand draws inspiration from pop culture mainstays like Barbie and Hello Kitty.

“Our goal is to introduce this category to a fresh demographic while also reigniting the interest of more seasoned users who may be bored with the current adult toys on the market,” Annis says. “The toys in the Natalie’s Toy Box line are playful, fun, discreet, cute, nonphallic and match the trends and current buying profiles of a younger demographic.”

Motivating Milestones

All of today’s new brands are striving for popularity and growth. So how’s that going? More specifically, what milestones along the way mark progress along the road toward achieving their personal dreams and business goals?

After the long haul of its 10-year development journey through design, prototype, patent and manufacturing, CockBlock has been experiencing a barrage of milestones since finally launching, according to Depow.

“Because we are so new, I feel like there is a major milestone every few weeks!” he says. “For me personally, leaving my corporate position earlier this year to fully focus on CockBlock was huge. And receiving a nomination for 2024 XBIZ Couples Toy of the Year has been an incredible milestone in terms of recognition for all the hard work we have put into launching this new product category.”

Elevatem’s Devinne M. and Like a Kitten’s Annis were also thrilled when their respective brands landed XBIZ Awards nominations. So was Devin Shanahan, CEO of The Oh Club, a brand for which industry press, award nominations and strategic partnerships have all proved to be helpful barometers of how much traction the pleasure brand is getting in pursuit of its mission.

“It’s been amazing seeing our brand gain notoriety,” says Shanahan. “It’s such an honor to be nominated for huge awards in this coming year when we haven’t even been in business for a full year. Another huge milestone for us was bringing on XBIZ Male Performer of the Year Seth Gamble as our chief strategy officer. His experience and knowledge is priceless to our brand. We’ve also done many successful collaborations with notable names in the industry, such as Anna Claire Clouds, Freya Parker, Lumi Ray, Mina Luxx, Siren Obscura and others, which have raised awareness of our brand.”

Recent award nominations have also buoyed Demon Kat, as have new alliances with other industry players and ramping up ancillary endeavors like private label manufacturing.

“We have amazing relationships with brands like Fort Troff and at one point this year, we had three of our products in their top 10 sellers,” Reimer reports. “Having the opportunity to get our products to consumers through private label is very satisfying. We have another seven to 10 products on the private label docket for next year, so this takes up an incredible amount of time with logistics, but it is paying the bills and gives us time to build up our brand, which we appreciate so much.”

At the retail level, Spark Sensations’ milestones include collaborations with large adult chain stores, as well as crossing over to the world of smoke shops and cannabis counterculture. Sara Jay Self-Care is expanding its retail footprint as well, and is now accessible not only online but also in select East Coast stores such as Legacy in New York and Aladdin in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Lorals has gone international, establishing a presence in over 80 countries in its two years — an achievement Cristol attributes to the company’s focus on perfecting strategies for its current 24 SKUs and collaborating with retail partners such as Lion’s Den, Good Vibrations, Fantasy for Adults Only and Urban Outfitters.

Obtaining FDA 510(k) clearance in 2022 was also a significant benchmark for Lorals, one Cristol sees as a win for both the oral sex product and for female equality in the sexual health space. In 2023, Lorals also obtained two international patents, adding to its portfolio of four U.S. utility and design patents.

Though not quite so stamped or official as patents and awards, customer response can nonetheless represent a hugely motivating milestone for newer pleasure brands. As a “baby company,” Annis notes, Like a Kitten relies heavily on feedback from consumers and retail contacts when making decisions about the brand’s future direction, underscoring the company’s commitment to evolving in response to market needs.

“Our consumer and retail contacts are the best judges of what is working and what isn’t,” she says, citing the positive response to products like the brand’s Lucky Duck as an example.

Goldberger likewise experiences customer feedback as a driving inspiration behind Spark Sensations’ ongoing efforts.

“My favorite phone call was from a woman who had just finished chemotherapy and had no libido at all,” Goldberger shares. “She came across Happy Chocha and it changed her life! She and her husband finally spent quality time together after years when she was out of the loop. Because the gummy was so gentle and smooth, she was able to start consuming Happy Chocha each time she and her husband wanted some playtime. She also happened to own a shop, so when she called to share her story, she finished by placing an order for several boxes as she wanted to help her clients as well.”

Standing Out

In today’s vast marketplace, challenge No. 1 for new brands is: How to stand out amidst the myriad choices available to consumers?

Sometimes that challenge is quite literal, as eye-catching packaging can make a product jump out at the consumer from its place on the display shelf. Reimer says Demon Kat took a meticulous approach to design, ultimately opting for a signature “pattern” rather than a fixed color for its packaging.

“All of our packaging has our starburst design, but with different colors based on the feel of the product,” Reiner explains. “For instance, all of our water-based products are designed with a blue starburst. When you put our entire line on a wall, you can see the distinctive patterns of our style and see how they all fit together seamlessly and stand out as a singular brand.”

CockBlock went another route.

“In our case, our playful name helped us stand out,” Depow says. “As I started sketching out early designs, I realized the product would have to be block-shaped. It needed to be flat against bodies to be comfortable and positionally stable, and the sides had to have more material to add rigidity to prevent the penises from crisscrossing. I had an ‘Aha!’ moment realizing that a block for two cocks... is a cockblock! It just felt like a great opportunity to redefine a word already associated with sex. The fact that the original meaning has a negative connation adds a bit of cognitive dissonance when you first hear it, which only makes the name more memorable. It’s very sticky.”

Unintentional double-entendres aside, CockBlock’s viral success on social media platforms does indeed demonstrate how a clever and unconventional name can generate attention and make a brand “stick” in the minds of consumers.

Goldberger sees today’s consumers as less naïve, so her approach to marketing Spark Sensations is less about a catchy name or memorable package, and more about authenticity.

“The more you try to sell today’s shoppers, the more it generates the opposite outcome,” she says. “Therefore, from my experience, honesty has become the most important selling point for consumers. Be direct. Tell them what it is and what the benefits are.”

Rashmi emphasizes the appeal of brands with a purpose, especially those like MsChief, intended to respond to societal shifts.

“When a brand’s authentic reason for being intersects with customer need, that is when the magic happens,” he says.

Devinne M. believes that for today’s shoppers, it’s not just about the product, but also the values a brand represents and whether they are contributing to positive change. She suggests new brands ask themselves, “Are you making a difference in the community?”

For the Oh Club, industry connections collaborations with influencers provide a boost, but breaking through remains a considerable hurdle. Shanahan counsels patience in the quest for brand awareness, especially when competing against long-established companies.

“We’re excited for the future and making our own footprint within the space,” he says. “But nothing good happens overnight!”

Jay described it as a combination between marketing and word of mouth as crucial in making a brand stand out.

“Initial consumer impressions are shaped by branding, making an eye-catching appearance crucial,” she said. “Hence, we opted for dark labels and a playful nurse caricature to capture attention. Additionally, endorsements and testimonials serve to affirm the exceptional quality of our products. Allowing consumers to speak for our products is an invaluable strategy.”

Welcome to the Margins

New brands face unique hurdles right from the starting gate, but equally daunting are the obstacles that even established adult brands must continually negotiate. For startup brands entering the sexual health and pleasure space, one of the first lessons tends to be about marginalization, as they must somehow learn to carry out effective marketing campaigns while being censored and denied the opportunities and access that mainstream brands enjoy.

Sex and relationship therapist and author Tammy Nelson is the creator of couples card game Date Night Card Deck, as well as the host of the podcast “The Trouble with Sex” — both of which she says have experienced censorship.

“Some consumers have asked for, and I’ve wanted to create, a more X-rated deck,” Nelson says. “But a traditional publisher with the marketing reach and money to produce the kind of quality product I want is not willing to push that edge.”

She also finds that social media platforms often shadow-ban or shut down content related to the game as well as her podcast, since its title includes the word “sex.”

“Apparently my posts about the Date Night Card Deck or the podcast — while educational — are too inflammatory,” she says.

Devinne M. notes that because Elevatem products contain cannabis, it is difficult to showcase her brand on social media without getting shadow-banned or even having the brand’s profile deleted.

Depow says that CockBlock Toys would happily conform to stringent online advertising guidelines — if such guidelines were clear.

“We receive no explanation when ads are banned, leaving us in the dark as to how to correct the situation,” he says. “Was the issue an image? The copy? A link? The landing page? We frequently find ourselves at the mercy of opaque algorithms that seem to continually change, with no humans available for guidance unless you have a high ad spend. This makes it very difficult for those just starting out.”

Zini, a brand that was relaunched in 2023, now aims to offer affordable-yet-luxurious intimate goods. Ian Kulp, global director of sales and marketing for Bswish and Zini, noted that establishing and reinforcing trust, breaking through established competition, and navigating evolving regulatory landscape are hurdles that new brands must face.

“Addressing these challenges requires proactive approaches such as customer education, community engagement, and staying informed about industry regulations,” he said.

Goals in Motion

This year’s pleasure industry up-and-comers are setting ambitious goals and adopting strategic plans to increase their visibility and establish themselves in the marketplace.

The Oh Club aims to expand its product catalog and invest in research and development to create cutting-edge pleasure products incorporating the latest technologies, materials and design concepts. Additionally, the brand plans to launch educational campaigns to help destigmatize conversations around pleasure products, providing accurate information and promoting healthy attitudes toward sexuality. Ensuring diversity and inclusivity in marketing materials and leveraging positive user reviews are also key components of The Oh Club’s vision for 2024, Shanahan says.

As for Lorals, wow that it is available in over 80 countries, the company is turning its focus on new avenues for growth.

“We are excited to expand and grow our B2B presence with retailers, nonprofits, healthcare groups and government entities,” Cristol says. “We want Lorals to be on every bedside table around the world!”

The recent inaugural Vibe Expo marked the first time that Demon Kat has sold its products directly to consumers, and Reimer says the brand may do more in that area while also continuing to grow its private-label business.

“One of the more exciting pieces of news is that we made a deal with Perfect Fit Brand to repackage Buck’s original trans toys Buck Off and Kiss X into Demon Kat packaging,” he reveals. “So we are on our way to bringing all of his products under the Demon Kat umbrella. You heard it here first!”

DanaMedic will be unleashing its new Erect’r brand this year.

“We are already working on some amazing new products that will be added soon to the Erect’r suite,” says Paolo Davide Griffo, key account manager for DanaMedic. “We are partnering with a very trusted company, a big name within our industry, to create a unique device, with cutting-edge technology and an incredible design.”

Having received international interest, CockBlock Toys is working on making its products more accessible to international markets in 2024.

“The fact that we’ve shipped to over 40 countries, even though customers have the extra expenses of international shipping and duties, proves to us that there is pent-up demand,” Depow says. “We are really excited for what’s to come!”

Other new brands have their sights set on a variety of challenges. Devinne M. is determined to get Elevatem in front of more retailers and distributors, so it can show up on shelves in 2024. The company also plans to launch a new line of cannabis-infused suppositories early this year. Spark Sensations has plans to grow its distribution channels and introduce new products that combine unique ingredients to enhance sexual experiences, immunity, focus and overall well-being. With a new line set to launch later this year, Like a Kitten is looking to push deeper into the retail space with Natalie’s Toy Box, eyeing growth both in the U.S. and internationally. And MsChief aims to expand its brand into pharmacies in India.

“We are aware that this will be an uphill battle,” Rashmi says. “But we are in this space for the long haul, and will use all synergies of our existing businesses to drive scale in the pleasure business for MsChief.”

The long haul is where all of today’s up-and-coming pleasure brands hope to make their mark, and the visions they have outlined promise an exciting future for the industry. From innovative designs and cutting-edge technologies to educational initiatives and global expansion plans, these brands are not only shaping the market but also challenging societal norms and fostering positive conversations around intimacy, pleasure and well-being. Together, these fearless startups are helping fuel a transformative movement that transcends taboos and holds limitless possibilities for a more enlightened, open-minded future.

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