LOS ANGELES — As the adult entertainment industry continues to evolve, some companies have found a way to bridge time-honored values with a look towards the future — embracing changing technologies and new business models.
For old school porn producers weaned on the studio system, the Internet has posed (and continues to pose) a wide range of challenges and opportunities — with many companies falling by the wayside, while others continue to thrive — providing lessons and role models for their peers in the process...
Hyland, of adult video distribution company Pure Play Media, told XBIZ that adult content delivery (and how it is consumed) has been a hot topic ever since the adult industry started — and the conversation has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years: digital is it, and everything else is, well, not it.
“If a studio wants to stay afloat it has to stay on trend. Even if it means faking it to make it,” Hyland says. “But there’s one studio that’s proven it’s possible to maintain top status by utilizing the very marketing channels that so many industry members argue to be obsolete — and trends have nothing to do with its continuing success.”
Hyland is discussing the SCORE Group, which spreads its signature content online, in print, on video and even via mail order; and has maintained this comprehensive business model since the beginning, with a special dedication towards being honest with its customers.
According to its editor, Elliot James, SCORE began as a one-title magazine publisher in 1992, and was fortunate to have jumped online in 1995 as the print industry began showing its first signs of weakness. The publication’s main niche was, and still is, big boobs; but over the years, it has expanded its product lines to include other niches — each depicted with the maximum practical degree of authenticity.
“SCORE is perhaps best known for truly representing each of the niches that we cover,” James told XBIZ. “We do not say that a 20-year-old or even a 30-year-old is a MILF. When we say that our models have big natural boobs, they do. We do not use fish-eye lenses or Photoshop our covers to make the models’ breasts look bigger.”
“While many companies film small-breasted girls and label the DVD as ‘big bust,’ our models have the biggest boobs on DVD shelves — and many of them have become superstars in the big-bust niche,” James adds. “The same goes for our mature category: They’re not 35-year-old porn stars thrown into DVDs labeled as ‘MILFS.’ SCORE fans appreciate that we aren’t trying to trick them into a sale.”
It is a refreshing outlook for a company in an industry swarming with “reality” sites that are anything but real, where fantasy rules, and where an 18-year-old with a kid can be described as “a MILF.” It is not just customers that are grateful for this level of honesty, however, but the businesses serving them as well.
“Retailers appreciate this mindset the most, as it creates an unbreakable trust that keeps consumers coming back, and brand loyalty that makes it easy to secure a sale every time the studio releases a new title,” Hyland explains. “And while SCORE content isn’t cheap, the price tags never sway shoppers (nor our customers) because the success of their DVDs can be proven on paper.”
The relationship between Pure Play and SCORE is one of mutual appreciation and respect, which shows how adult entertainment companies are able to successfully work together for their mutual benefit — illustrating an increasingly vital component of today’s profitable business relationships.
“We were attracted to Pure Play because we sensed a lot of honesty and integrity there,” James told XBIZ. “In other words, we felt like-minded — and that this was a partnership that could endure and that we could build something together for the long haul.”
“On the DVD side of our business, SCORE’s main focus has always been on retail mail order sales,” James added. “Pure Play afforded us an opportunity to pick up incremental sales on the wholesale side while helping us reach new customers. And now almost 12 years later, our partnership is still going strong.”
For Pure Play, SCORE’s popularity with its loyal fan base made its lines an attractive fit for the wholesale distributor’s retail shop customers, making this relationship a no-brainer.
“At this point, stores are familiar enough with SCORE that it’s mostly a matter of letting them know about new release dates and what the box covers look like, because that’s another key selling point about this studio,” Hyland explains, noting that one of the studio's top selling points is that “they feature women who are brand new to the business and offer something unique and true to the niche at hand.”
This is something that sets SCORE apart: its focus on new and exclusive models — with an emphasis on very busty, shapely and attractive girls — whether they only do solos or are available for boy-girl scenes.
In fact, many girls have started their porn careers through SCORE — performing in popular DVDs such as “Angela White Finally Fucks” and “Eva Notty in Boob Science.”
“Over the years we have been the leaders in discovering and nurturing the world’s greatest big-bust stars,” James says. “We have also led the way in finding actual MILFs and much older mature women for those niches. These women are in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s and are from the real world: wives, divorcees, swingers and experimenters.”
This real world appeal extends into the retail world, where connecting with existing and potential new customers is a matter of better brand exposure and effective product placement.
“In my experience handling SCORE’s account, I find retailers tend to display these DVDs two ways: creating a separate SCORE section (some using the company’s own branded racks, which are available upon request), or dividing up the DVD area among the niches themselves,” Hyland confides. “Because SCORE puts so much attention on its box covers, retailers that make a destination of sorts for SCORE DVDs find the greatest sales success. And while SCORE DVDs are priced higher than your average gonzo title, they are quite reasonable for the quality of the brand and the women featured — which ends up adding value to the line — and a further incentive to buy.”
James echoed the effectiveness of a prominent exposure for SCORE titles as being key to heavy sales.
“If the retailer has niche sections such as big bust, MILFs and teens, keep SCORE Group DVDs together,” James advises. “If the store also sells our magazines, pair the DVDs and magazines together. We have a very loyal magazine readership, DVD base and website membership and maintain strong relationships with our fans.”
Part of this relationship building process involves encouraging fan and retailer feedback, reading every idea and suggestion, and then responding to that feedback, even if it’s not practical to implement every suggestion the company receives. SCORE is also proud of the B2B relationships that it has maintained for more than a decade — developed in part through active engagement with the community.
“Clearly, SCORE takes everything it does very seriously with the goal of distinguishing itself with pride, and it’s still the brand to beat because at the end of the day, our customers, and SCORE’s fans, know that they’re getting exactly what they’re paying for,” Hyland concluded. “Consistency (and honesty) is the key to this level of success.”
Given these companies’ approach of focusing on timeless values such as consistency and honesty, while embracing the dynamic nature of the marketplace, it is clear that for at least some of porn’s players, the future continues to look bright.