LOS ANGELES – Attendees packed XBIZ 360 Pleasure Products Conference seminar rooms yesterday and were treated to the expertise of a diverse group of industry experts who provided predictions for the future of the market from design, tech and sexual wellness standpoints.
The daylong conference presented by LELO, kicked off with the On the Cutting Edge: Pleasure Products Design & Tech Innovations panel, which featured LELO’s Donna Faro, Standard Innovation’s Danny Osadca, Crave’s Michael Topolovac, Revel Body’s Robin Elenga, Dr. Clockwork and OhMiBod’s Brian Dunham.
The session focused on what’s on the horizon in terms of technology and design.
“Some of the motors that we’re developing are a lot smaller so that will enable smaller devices,” Elenga said. “In general there’s a whole world of imbedded electronics like heart-rate sensors, and skin response that hook up to a micro-processor with software that’s network-enabled to create new functions and make a product that learns what you like and works with you.”
Dr. Clockwork provided an example of an upcoming pleasure products innovation with a children’s toy – wearable ears that include a sensor that reads brain waves and respond with movements, including enabling the ears to perk up with the user is focused on a thought.
“Why can’t our brain waves control the motor of something that’s up your ass, or wherever the vibration go,” Dr. Clockwork said. “This is technology that we’re working on – using cutting-edge technology rather than catching up five years later.”
Panelists also discussed challenges in producing commercially successful designs and balancing that with originality.
“You can have a concept and design that you think is fantastic but the market won’t accept it or want to pay for it,” Faro said. “At LELO, we’re not ashamed to admit that we have multiple products that you’ll never see. For as many products as we release, there are 15 that we haven’t released.”
Topolovac added, “I think this category is changing from the novelty space to a modern product space. What’s fascinating is that it’s a lot like the fashion space. It has the diversity of fashion but is technology-driven. The products have to work but they’re more intuitive and designed to create an experience. The enduring brands are the ones that look at it that way and use technology to bring these products to life.
The High-End Appeal: Pleasure Products' Tipping Point panel focused on luxury brands with discussions about what is enabling their success. In summary, panelists concluded that in addition to high quality materials and functions, warranties and retail staff can make shoppers feel secure in their purchases and marketing will deliver a brand’s message to boost sales.
“When I do gather up the courage to ask one of your staff about prostate massagers, I want to be treated gently - it’s important,” Evolved Novelties’ Marcus West said. “Customers don’t want someone that’s going to poke fun at them, be casual or don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Speaking on the marketing of high-end pleasure products, Eldorado’s Brian Sofer said it’s all about the back-story of the manufacturer.
“From a distributor perspective I don’t go into specifics of the product features I’m much more interested in selling the story of the brand,” Sofer said. “If I know I can sell the story of that brand, I know that they’re going to come back over and over. I don’t like, personally as a man, to tell women what product is best for them so I’m more comfortable when I understand the philosophy and story behind the brand.”
The Pushing Awareness: Sexual Health and Sex Toy Sales panel analyzed the health benefits of pleasure products and how to best convert interest in sexual wellness into profits. The panel included sexologists, as well as perspectives from a manufacturer and retail standpoint.
Panelists were asked to sum up the relationship between pleasure products and sexual wellness in three to four words.
“Enjoy self exploration,” Aneros CEO CT Schenk said.
Sex educator Charlie Glickman added, “Pleasure supports well-being.”
Good Vibes’ Carol Queen said, “No shame, awareness.”
Sexologist and CalExotic Expert Sexpert Jaiya offered, “Orgasms equal long life.”
The Future of Pleasure Products panel tied it all together with a look at the evolving marketplace. Moderator Castle Megastore’s Mark Franks asked panelists to predict any new product categories that may arise in the future. The panelists concluded that the future will hold improvements to existing categories.
“There are a lot of technologies out there but until something comes up that's easy to use like a simple vibrator than those things are going to remain on the fringe,” Lovehoney’s Neal Slateford said. “It’s got to be easy for someone entry-level to understand.”
Sportsheets founder Tom Stewart said focusing on intercourse is the most optimal route for the future of pleasure products.
“If you could change the way a couple has sex that's truly revolutionary,” Stewart said. “Intercourse applies to men and women. A change in the experience is what's going to rock the world of a couple that has been having sex for a long time. The Doggy Strap, for example, adds a different twist to sex and I don't think there are enough manufacturers out there focused on intercourse. After the foreplay you put away all of the toys and then you have sex... typically with the same person you did last time. Men usually have the same three moves so if there's something that can help up their game, then they've truly changed that user's life. “
The day wrapped with a special keynote presentation from LELO CEO Miroslav Slavic who used pop culture icons to illustrate the current state of the pleasure products market as well as its future, and LELO’s role in shaping it.
“Since the introduction of the first LELO products on the market the change in design language and standards has spread like wildfire,” he said. “It opened up the eyes of the more quality-conscious consumer. Simultaneously these types of products appeal to a much wider audience presenting a greater potential market than ever which is what we have to take serious note of.”
Quoting Marilyn Monroe’s famed quote, “We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it's a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift,” Slavic added, “It is a pity because of all the benefits are tied to a healthy sexually active life. Some of these benefits are well known, some are less known benefits such as decreased risk of incontinence and other pelvic floor related disorders. We have information that shows that having sex two to three times a week can decrease the risk of heart attack.”
Slavic concluded with empowerment of everyone involved in the pleasure products industry.
“The future of pleasure products is to be determined by all of us, today,” Slavic said. “We encourage competitors and fellow connoisseurs to join us in this exciting quest to expand this industry beyond its apparent limitations. All of us are bringing pleasure and with it great health and wellness benefits to more and more people. We're helping to assist and liberate their natural sexuality and overall quality of their lives. The parameter against which our success should be measured is the degree that we manage to accomplish this.
“We have challenging but very exciting times ahead of us. We at LELO will continue to take the lead to ensure that the industry continues to prosper, our markets continue to grow and our consumers are able to partake to the greatest degree possible. If there is one thing we know for certain about the future of pleasure products is that pleasure products are the future.”