XBIZ 360 Pleasure Products Conference Unites Industry Bellwethers, Newcomers

LOS ANGELES - The XBIZ 360 Pleasure Products, presented by Pipedream Products, brought together the industry’s founding members and newcomers for a thorough exploration of the current state of the market and its flourishing future.

Kicking off with the Trending Toys panel, the session focused on pop culture’s positive influence on the market, as well as issues that arise.

“There’s a lot more people coming in,” Sportsheets’ Tom Stewart said. “I recognize that the product category in every store is going to expand. With the proliferation of Trojan vibes coming into CVS I think, you have to be cheering that on because every time its like chipping away at the wall of acceptance that we’re all trying to chisel away at in our own unique way.

“Desiree’s hitting them with the marketing, Liberator with the product placement, Donna over there at CES, the Bravermans, we're all doing the same thing,” Stewart said, “we’re all benefiting from climbing on each other and sometimes stepping on each other’s heads as competitors but the whole thing is going to emerge and it’s going to be better and better and I think that we’re all waiting for that dam to crack open.”

LELO’s Donna Faro reinforced her mantra, “tech is sexy” on her second panel of the day, “The Future of Pleasure Products,” in which she discussed LELO’s research into haptic technology, teledildonics and cybersex-based technology. “For every one product that we showcase there’s about 10 more that you have not seen and may not ever see,” Faro said.

Emerging technology also was a central topic of discussion during the “iToy: Hottest Trends in Sex Toy Design and Technology.”

“I think consumers are looking for a standard of excellence in the production of their products, Je Joue’s Alicia Relles said. “With the advent of new technologies, the price point is a little bit higher. Customers come to the sex toy market with a willingness to invest in something that’s nicely made so we’re taking a departure from the $10 vibe up to the $100-plus vibrators. Consumers also are now very aware of the quality of materials – they want something hygienic.”

Regardless of consumers’ willingness to spend more on luxury product, Jimmyjane’s Ethan Imboden said that in any market, 17 percent are premium products.

“There will always a market for lower priced product,” Imboden said.

Among the latest technology in pleasure products is Fun Factory’s new Pulsator, which was brought up on numerous panels, including the “Gen Y: What’s Hot and What’s Not” panel.

Several other new pleasure products are the horizon, evidenced by numerous industry newcomers who posed questions throughout the day. Blue Dreams Co. is gearing up to release a new couples vibrator that’s worn internally by women, said Edison Diaz, who also is participating in the XBIZ Retail Retreat in order to gain additional feedback. Sally from Dildudz, based in Houston, said she’s launching a brand of protective “clothes” for pleasure products; while JR Gauger, CEO of Reverb Toys, Inc. would only reveal that his company is working on a top secret product masterminded by health professionals soon to be released to the industry.

For iconic brands such as Doc Johnson, company COO Chad Braverman said innovation is great but should be balanced.

“It’s important to look at what you have currently in your product selection and strike a balance between that and what the next big thing out there is – the next invention or concept,” Braverman said. “It’s not just in producing new products, but how we make them, being more efficient with the machinery that we used.”

During the Pipedream Products Future of Pleasure Product Merchandising seminar, the company’s powerhouse merchandising and sales team presented its state-of-the-art exclusive Planogrammer merchandising software.

“Successful visual techniques and merchandising turns a shopper into a buyer, and increases dollar amount per sale,” visual merchandier Briana Honz said. “Educational and tasteful presentations give confidence and direction to shoppers to save them time.”

Honz also discussed the value of cross merchandising.

“It’s a must in every single store,” she said. “Cross merchandised items are grouped by commonality. It helps with the flow of a store and it helps inexperienced users because it suggests products that might’ve been unknown to them. Cross merchandising is a silent seller that works for you without a paycheck. “When you put all of these merchandising techniques together, that’s where Pipedream stands out we have an in-house team that allows us to be proactive and first on the market, we have a global team and that makes us a dominant brand.”

Steve Sav, vice president of sales, also discussed the benefits of Planogrammer.

“There are several scenarios to use Planogrammer like stores condensing their video section with more wall space, updating their appearance, and to create dedicated sections that appeal. It makes placing that first order easy and facilitates re-orders.”

The day of seminars closed with a keynote from Jimmyjane founder Ethan Imboden, who discussed his history in product design and inspiration for launching Jimmyjane.

“This is an image of Marc Jacobs spanking Sofia Coppola,” Imboden told the audience as the fashion advertisement appeared on screen. “The accessibility of the image combined with aspiration is what inspired me, its playfulness and balance of high and low.” XBIZ Associate Publisher Sara Ramirez said she was pleased with the conference’s turnout. “I’d like to thank all of our sponsors for making this wonderful event possible,” Ramirez said.