Why Single People Should Be Doubly Important For Marketing Efforts This Valentine’s Day

While the sexual wellness sector is still dusting itself off after a manic Christmas, the next peak trading period — and one of the biggest of the year — is already upon us: yes, it’s Valentine’s.

The Lovehoney B2B team is already geared up for the holiday that’s synonymous with couples, but nobody in the sector should be overlooking the power of the singleton, for reasons delved into in a little more detail below.

Don’t ostracize your audience

If your Valentine’s campaign completely fails to take into consideration the single people among us, then you are effectively ostracizing a huge chunk of your audience.

By incorporating singletons into your messaging — even if only to acknowledge that they might be purchasing items around this time too — you are making sure they still feel seen and heard, and keep coming back.

The rise of ‘Galentine’s’

What seemingly started off as a joke in a popular sitcom, has turned into somewhat of a worldwide phenomenon, with legions of women – single and otherwise – celebrating Galentine’s each year.

Much the same way as Valentine’s, the off-brand version of the day features gifting, dinners, and trips away, and is ‘officially’ celebrated on February 13. You can see in the below Google Trends chart from the UK how interest in Galentine’s day has risen over the last few years, and as a singles-focused event, it’s a great way to tap into a different market around the February peak.

People like self-gifting, too!

Much like Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions on the annual calendar, self-gifting on Valentine’s has gone way beyond being acceptable and is now actively encouraged.

Not that we need asking twice, but the most romantic day of the year presents us all with the perfect excuse to buy oneself a gift, and this is particularly more prudent if you’re spending the day single, cuddled up in front of a movie or out with your friends.

Don’t forget about this very much real audience when talking about Valentine’s Day.

It can be a hard time to be single

Away from the financial and business-focused aspects of including single people in marketing tactics surrounding Valentine’s, there is also a human aspect.

Being single is very much the right thing for some people, and others actively enjoy it, however this can be a hard time of year for some to be single, particularly if a relationship has recently ended.

While the majority of messaging around Valentine’s will understandably focus on couples, spare a thought for the rest of the market and try to include in at least some of the marketing and communications in February.

Why Single People Should Be Doubly Important For Marketing Efforts This Valentine’s Day by Jade Bawa originally appeared in Storerotica

Beat the Burnout: How Small Business Owners Do Self-Care

When you are in the thick of building a business from the ground up, nurturing yourself will almost immediately take a backseat. Fair enough — “be obsessed or be average,” right? For self-employed small business owners, this risk of total burnout is extremely real on a day-to-day basis.

When you are your business, it is likely that you’re wearing a million hats with few or zero people to delegate additional tasks off of your perpetual to-do list. Aside from the logistical and administrative aspects of building a business, one must also account for mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Burnout can surface in a multitude of ways; complete exhaustion being the most common, where it feels like no amount of sleep is ever enough. More serious symptoms of burnout include panic attacks and anxiety.

Self-care is defined as identifying your personal needs and making a conscious effort to meet them. The idea is to take proper care of yourself, being as kind to yourself as you are to others. Seven types of self-care include physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, relational and practical.

According to author, columnist and businesswoman Arianna Huffington, “The Western workplace culture — exported to many other parts of the world — is practically fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout. This is profoundly — and negatively — affecting our creativity, our productivity, and our decision-making: the very thing entrepreneurs need in order to succeed.”

Over the last several years, I have been employed as a wholesale account manager. A large number of my customers are home party business owners. In some cases, they are either just starting their business, or have been maintaining it for years, in addition to managing a full-time job and a family. While getting to know these customers, there is a blaring common denominator between 99 percent of them. Between the hustle of work life, family life, and everything else in-between, a stable self-care practice was noticeably absent. This can be particularly unfortunate for businesses that are geared towards empowering others to turn pleasure into a priority. (Looking at you, novelty folks!) The inspiration that once fueled their business goals has crept away, and the dream that originally provided a lot of fulfillment has become just the opposite.

Intentional self-care is non-negotiable for achieving business goals, keeping clients happy, and maintaining sanity. The onset of depletion produces a trickle-down effect, taking its toll on the inner circle of friends, family and even customers. The good news is that just like owning a business, you also own the ability to manage your time, and stop burnout in its tracks. The trick is proactivity and keeping yourself accountable every day.

Reaching out to several industry peers proved to be quite enlightening when it came to hearing about their existing self-care rituals.

Morgan Sommer, co-founder of Cybersocket.com, says, “Life is complex. And my inner world can complicate even simple things if I allow it. The only thing in the world that I can actually exercise any real control over is my state of mind. So my first priority 99 percent of days is to manage my own mind. I do this through a daily meditation practice. After years of people suggesting I give it a try, I finally started about five years ago. It proved to be useful so I gave it more time and over the years it has evolved and I have tried many methods and practices. At this point I have a practice that really does work for me and helps me to face each day with the best perspective I can. It does not mean I don’t have moments of anger, frustration, lunacy, or other negative emotional states. It does mean that I have tried to make friends with my mind and to detach from my thoughts and emotions just a step so that I don’t have to be ruled by them. This is what is working for me these days.”

Sommer also added, “One minute a day is enough to make a change.”

It can feel like you cannot afford to stop doing what you are doing, if even for a minute. Yes you can! Everybody has five minutes a day to reset and recharge. A quick exercise to help you get your groove back — “Legs Up The Wall” — is not a sex position, as the name might entail. This activity requires you to lay flat on your back with your legs against the wall for five minutes. This relieves physical tension from the lower back, feet and legs. Additionally, try shutting down your computer. I understand; the thought of closing all of your open windows is horrifying. But you can do it!

Sensual Empowerment Alchemist Domina Doll says, “When I feel day-to-day stress and can’t just jump in the bath, I stop for a minute and remember to breathe! Seriously. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but practicing conscious breath triggers the para-sympathetic nervous system to inhibit stress-producing hormones, such as adrenaline, which then decreases the heart rate, blood pressure, and puts you into a calmer state of being. To practice this, you just need to breathe deep into the belly for a count of four, then exhale S-L-O-W-L-Y for a count of seven. Practice for two to 10 minutes. You can also quiet your mind while doing this by repeating a mantra over and over again, like “I am calm. I am calm.”

The first step towards a daily practice is to schedule it on your calendar, and to commit to the same time every day. Each type of self-care can easily be assigned to one day of the week.

Monday/Physical: Plan your lunch on Sunday night. Whether you prep a meal to take with you, or plan to visit a healthy restaurant today, be mindful!

Tuesday/Emotional: Express your gratitude on paper. One or two things is sufficient to improve your mood; 10 to 20 is when you start getting to the good stuff.

Wednesday/Spiritual: Challenge yourself to meditate. Download an app like Headspace, that brings a realistic and accessible approach to meditation and allows you to set daily reminders.

Thursday/Intellectual: Try an app like Duolingo and challenge yourself to learning a new language. Or pick a new podcast and tune in every Thursday. Personal favorites include Optimal Living Daily, TedTalks Business, and Sex With Emily.

Friday/Social: Say yes to personal invitations. Happy hour with coworkers? Say yes! Inviting friends or family over for dinner? Do it. Even if I have to drag myself out of the house to be social, I always leave thinking how happy I was that I went.

Saturday/Relational: Engage in a new hobby with a group of people. Local softball team, dart league, karaoke, etc.

Sunday/Practical: Choose an activity that supports your life and your environment, like cleaning out a junk drawer (10 minutes!), or fixing the thing you’ve been putting off for months. For an intellectual and practical combo, check out the KonMari method of de-cluttering your space.

Ann Houlihan, CEO of CNV, Inc., says she is mindful from the moment the workday begins until the moment the office door closes.

“Worry doesn’t change anything,” Houlihan says.

Her daily routine is as follows: “End of day: Prepare for the next day’s tasks and put away the issues of the current day. Close the office door.

“Before sleep: Turn off electronics at least 45 minutes before retiring. Prepare bedroom to be cool, dark, no distractions, I use a lavender mist as it is supposed to be calming. Meditate — 10 minutes of mindful breathing.

“Before work: Sun salutations, stretching, water.

“During the day: Break up the day and move. Walk, stretch, or turn on some rock & roll and dance.

“Overall: Don’t over-book the day. Leave time for regular tasks, catch up and the always-present interruptions.”

Why grind through the motions when you can truly thrive? Investing in your health and happiness is one of the best investments you can make for your business.

Investing in personal health and happiness is a necessary ingredient for any success strategy. Your future business will thank you!

Beat the Burnout: How Small Business Owners Do Self-Care by Casey Murphy originally appeared in XBIZ

Masturbation Mythbusting: Mini Vibes

So, let’s start with a quick class review.

What even is a vibrator?

A vibrator is a sex toy and pleasure product used to arouse hot spots on the body in times of sexual play via the transmission of vibrations. This could look like anything from a wand, to a vibrating dildo, to a rabbit vibrator, and the list could go on forever.

There are also all kinds of subcategories of vibrators, one of them being mini vibrators (or “mini vibes”).

Mini vibes are just smaller versions of an average-sized vibrator to be used for different settings or experiences. When you google “mini vibrator”, you’ll likely get a page full of links to bullet vibrators, as these are the most commonly seen and most publicized. But it is DEFINITELY NOT the only kind.

Just like a regular-sized vibrator comes in all different shapes and sizes, so do mini vibes!

So when I hear people say things like:

  1. “ALL MINI VIBRATORS ARE THE SAME” or “I WON’T FIND ONE FOR ME”,

I know that whoever is saying it, doesn’t realize that we have options, babe!

Bullet vibrators are great, multifunctional mini vibes. It’s a timeless design concept that evolves with us as the sex-positive movement becomes more and more prevalent.

HOWEVER,

If bullet vibes aren’t your thing, mini vibes are NOT one-size-fits-all. It is 2022, and mini vibrators come in more than one shape and size!

Speaking of size, I know that when someone says,

  1. “THEY ARE TOO SMALL TO BE POWERFUL”,

They likely haven’t tried the right mini vibe, yet.

Just because a mini vibe is made with less material, doesn’t mean it is less powerful. Mini vibes still have adjustable power settings, just like any other vibrator. They just ALSO have the ability to get into small cracks and tight crevices to maximize overall pleasure.

But, keep in mind that the mini vibe does NOT have to be the main character or lead role in your experience. In fact, in many situations, it THRIVES as the supporting role.

Which tells me when I hear,

  1. “MINI VIBES ARE JUST VIBRATORS WITH TRAINING WHEELS”,

They likely haven’t auditioned their mini vibe as a supporting role, yet. Mini vibes are great on their own as “beginners vibrators” because they can be less intimidating overall. And for some, they may become and remain the “lead role” of the show when it comes to pleasure.

But others may want to continue to explore and try new things, and the mini vibe is great for this as well.

Use it WITH other toys. Use it DURING partnered play. Use it WHEN you want to try “vibing out” in an (acceptable) public setting. Use it ON untraditional areas of the body. Use it IN untraditional ways on the body.

Think of the mini vibe as the Sports Model, not the knockoff.

The possibilities are endless…

Conclusion

In short: if you are too busy stuck in a mind trap to truly explore with your mini vibe, OF COURSE it won’t tickle your fancy (pun intended 😉).

If you want your mini vibe experience to be out-of-this-world, YOU are the only thing in the way (because your mini vibe has been waitin). So stop expecting a unique experience without making unique choices, holding the vibe accountable for “being basic”.

That being said, maybe mini vibes ARE the secret menu item. What do you think?

Masturbation Mythbusting: Mini Vibes by Autumn Morris originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz

A Look at the Sales Power of Sex Toy Kits

As adult shopping has become more mainstream and accessible to the masses, we have seen fun evolution in the market. We have entered an age of curiosity, exploration and permission, and we’re seeing retail trends shifting to accommodate this new mindset and make it easier than ever for shoppers to discover their pleasures and desires — and the tools they need to experience them.

Today we are going to talk about one of the adult industry’s most successful sales boosters: all-in-one kits. A category that was once dominated by cheap novelties sold for one-time use has, in recent years, blossomed into a vital part of today’s adult retail landscape. Let’s explore the benefits that all-in-one kits can have for shoppers and retailers alike.

What Are All-in-One Kits?

Essentially, all-in-one kits provide a sort of one-stop shopping experience with several items that share a purpose all packaged together. Sometimes, they can include an assortment of affordable items that users can use with a partner and provide more than one form of stimulation. Other all-in-one kits aim to provide shoppers with everything they need to explore a specific activity in one convenient box.

The Pros of All-in-One Kits:

All-in-one kits offer an array of benefits to the user — and fruitful opportunities for the stores that sell them.

  • Value: These kinds of kits give shoppers multiple products for one price. They may include items such as a harness, cock rings, a dildo or vibrator all in one convenient box. That’s a lot of product with many different uses for one budget-friendly price.
  • Convenience: Having everything shoppers need in one box is not only great in terms of affordability; it’s also incredibly convenient. A shopper who picks up an all-in-one kit will easily and quickly find everything they need to explore a fantasy or test out a new curiosity without having to scour the store for each item — and without having to find a staff member to problem-solve with.
  • No guesswork: Shopping for an item one has never used or even seen before can be stressful and confusing for beginners, especially if they’ve never been inside an adult store. Shoppers need to think about whether the item they are purchasing requires accessories, they have to take a guess as to what variations they might prefer, and they have to decide on the spot what to buy and what to leave behind. All-in-one kits like these may include accessories that provide additional shapes and sizes, save customers from having to ask potentially personal and embarrassing questions and allow them to try every option out in the comfort and privacy of their home.
  • Easy gift-giving: Another bonus of all-in-one kits that come with multiple options is that they make great gifts! Typically, buying a vibrator for a friend or partner can be a bit risky. How do you know they’ll like it? With a kit, shoppers can give the gift of different toys for the price of one. On the retail side, all-in-one kits are fantastic additions to any store’s inventory because they solve problems without shoppers having to even approach a staff member.
  • Perfect for beginners: These kits make it easy for shoppers to try something new with low risk. Picking up an anal training kit or strap-on kit with all the accessories and straps included assures they will have everything they need to explore at home, and this creates a positive shopping experience that can lead to return visits.
  • Ideal for bashful shoppers: It’s terrific that modern-day sex shops are so education-focused and full of helpful, well-trained staff, but let’s face it: there will always be shoppers who don’t want to talk to anyone while they are shopping. Kits that offer multiple options, include every bit and piece, or provide an introductory experience to a new kind of play make it easy for shoppers to pick up what they need without having to ask for help.
  • They sell themselves! The bonus of all-in-one kits is that their packaging clearly shows every item inside and includes usage instructions and explanations on the box. The promise of a positive, convenient and value-priced experience helps sell the kit without a salesperson having to make a peep and inspires impulse purchases that lead to higher buy-ins.

If You Stock Kits, They Will Come

All-in-one kits are a slam-dunk for adult stores. The variety, convenience and affordability are unmatched. By keeping a variety of all-in-one kits on hand from multiple categories — couples, anal play, strap-on, enema play, beginner bondage, BDSM play, and more — you give your customers the opportunity to learn and explore. Shoppers will be able to start their experimentation with a convenient kit, and when it’s time to take that experimentation to the next level, they will come back to see what else you have. In short, all-in-one kits not only introduce folks to new products or activities, they can also help you build lasting, trusting relationships with shoppers.

A Look at the Sales Power of Sex Toy Kits by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

Supercharge Sales With Point-of-Purchase Marketing

We all know the important role marketing plays in brick-and-mortar retail. It can be tempting to buy into the idea that products and fancy packaging speak for themselves, but this line of thinking may be costing you big. Enter point-of-purchase (POP) marketing.

Traditional marketing works to help consumers evaluate products or service options and decide whether to make a purchase or peace out. There are various methods for accomplishing this, but they have the same goal in mind: using words and images to persuade them to buy.

Point-of-purchase marketing, however, is a bit different; sure, they’re designed to inspire a purchase, but they are strategically designed for grab-and-go items and placed in the highest-trafficked parts of the store. Especially in areas where shoppers are already susceptible to last-minute sales influence, POP displays help retailers harness shoppers’ inherent responsiveness to their own curiosity and impulse.

Small Footprint, High Traffic

The name alone, “point-of-purchase marketing,” is a clue as to one of the most effective ways to utilize these units: place them anywhere your customers go to make their purchase. If your shoppers frequently stand in line, set up POPs and tempting impulse items where they wait — especially small inexpensive items.

Anyone who’s shopped at a Sephora cosmetics store knows how effectively they use POP marketing. Along the length of their checkout line sit displays featuring small travel-size — and low cost — items that shoppers literally cannot avoid seeing while en route to the register. Have you ever wondered why this is so effective?

  • It’s not about convincing customers to make a purchase; they are already in line and ready to hand over their money, thus more likely to buy an additional product – especially if that product won’t significantly increase the total price of their purchase.
  • Placing relevant items in your customers’ path can serve as an effective impulse-purchase trigger or reminder. Displays for water-based lubricants offer customers a convenient way to grab a sensual item they already use, prompting them to stock up on staples.
  • An engaging display lessens the likelihood of customers walking out empty handed after seeing a long line at check out by transforming the typically unpleasant waiting experience into a continuation of the shopping fun.

While displays at or near the register are effective, you have myriad opportunities to employ POP marketing throughout your store. Displays placed at various points around your sales floor, like endcaps or next to complementary products, can help boost sales not only by inspiring low-cost impulse buys but also promoting cross-sales.

Easing the Fear of Commitment

Fear of the unknown often can keep customers from purchasing new or unfamiliar products, which is why I recommend customers display a pillow pack POP next to full-size containers of the same product. Rather than invest in a large bottle of something they might not like, they can pick up sample sizes and test them out first.

This is great for repeat sales and return customers, especially when they are ready to come back for the bigger size – and maybe a sex toy to match!

Create a POP Pop-up

The pop-up shop concept, where a company temporarily sets up shop in another retailer’s establishment, has become increasingly popular in recent years. These pop-ups help create excitement on the store floor with an engaging presentation and, knowing it won’t be there for long, a sense of urgency to purchase before product runs out.

For example, a store might feature an “All About Oral” pop-up shop that features flavored lubricants, mini vibrators, positioning props, and more from a variety of brands. In this pop-up, a retailer could utilize oral sex enhancers together with mini vibes and oral sex-centric accessories with impressive results.

Shoppers may have come into your store to pick something else up, but this kind of eye-catching marketing inspires additional purchases and may even help start a conversation with a staff member. During higher-traffic sales seasons, like Valentine’s Day or Halloween, giving these POPs a theme also adds a visual element that puts shoppers in the holiday spirit.

Unspoken Sales

Possibly the most effective use of POP displays is to help communicate sales features and benefits using a small amount of space and no need for a salesperson to follow a script. This is especially useful for smaller stores that don’t have the need for a large staff — effective POPs not only attract attention and inspire a purchase, they also clearly and effectively tell curious shoppers exactly why they must take this product home today.

Supercharge Sales With Point-of-Purchase Marketing by Autumn O’Bryan originally appeared in XBIZ

Keeping the Q4 Express on Track All Year Long

December is a magical time of year — and honestly, my favorite season of the year. I always look forward to Q4 from both a business and personal perspective. Businesswise, we typically see 8% to 16% growth over Q3 revenues. On the personal side, Q4 signals the arrival of Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

Q4 is typically also when we see our merchants kick their online promotions into high gear. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Year’s specials, our clients are all looking for ways to juice their business along with their holiday cocktails. But why limit your business to Q4 holiday sales and promotions? This month, we offer up three ways to pump up sales volume beyond the traditional holiday season.

GIVE THE GIFT OF SINGLE-USE PROMOS

It’s common for merchants to offer specials to anyone who lands on their site. Many use a targeted approach as a way to build their customer base. That’s why we touch base with our merchants several times throughout the quarter, reminding them to have their promos in place. These friendly reminders help prevent everyone and everything from getting backed up the day before a big holiday with client requests. Targeting your promos has also proven to be helpful. Even payment processors provide offers like a single-use promo which allows customers to enter a promo code one time to take advantage of a special offer. If you need help targeting promos, there is affiliate software available that can help simplify the process.

PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAY HANGOVER

It never fails: After the “holiday high” comes the “New Year’s low.” Everyone feels it once the holidays pass. Many of us see the change in sales as they either hold flat or are slightly off from the peak December numbers. This is due to the holiday being over and consumers feeling a little stressed that they might have spent too much on gifts or on other fun stuff. To make sure your investment in Q4 converts, you need to have solid risk management in place and upfront. This will ensure the transactions don’t refund and charge back in the new year.

We encourage our merchants to take advantage of 3D Secure to provide extra validation on their transactions. We also suggest going above and beyond on consumer notifications. This simplifies the process of reaching out and canceling a membership. Because we know no one wants to lose a customer, we encourage merchants to set up retention offers to help keep new members activated after the holidays. One technique proven to be successful for us is incentivizing our call center reps to save sales and present new offers. We’ve also seen positive results from our self-serve support site when they present these retention offers at the time a consumer requests to cancel.

CELEBRATE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

You really can keep the holidays rolling all year long. There is literally a special recognition day for just about every single day of the year! According to the National Day Calendar, there are over 2,500 holidays listed. Some are silly but some allow us to reflect on cultures, animals, religion, professions and more. You could easily come up with promos for many of these “special days” that relate to any business.

If your company specializes in geography or is global, there are a host of special international holidays too. We’ve seen merchants around the world notice spikes in sales due to promotions they have tied to holidays and special occasions that are country- or region-specific.

So, get a jump on your promos for 2022. Look at the calendar of “special days” and start planning your promotions accordingly. The bottom line is, there are so many ways to keep and gain new customers all year long. All you need to do is be creative beyond the traditional holidays and time your promos well. Be smart, and you’ll be saying “Happy holidays” all year long!

Keeping the Q4 Express on Track All Year Long by Cathy Beardsley originally appeared in XBIZ

How Adult Retailers Can Help Customers Get Their Sexy Back Post-Menopause

The change. The stage in life we know is coming, but really don’t want to acknowledge. From hormonal and body changes to decreased libido and a possible shift in one’s intimacy with their partner, it can be a lot to adjust to and process. Being invested in and informed about this time in a woman’s life will not only increase our sales, but it will also put the spotlight on the industry’s newest and most innovative toys.

If you have worked in an adult store, you have definitely witnessed couples walking in who have lost the spark. Their sexual intimacy is not what it used to be, and they’re feeling discouraged and disconnected. Fortunately, with the right retail help, that same couple can walk out of the store with a bag full of goodies that they can’t wait to get home to try. In the same way, when a cautious older woman walks in who misses her sex drive, her sensation, her orgasms — who no longer feels sexy — you can also help her walk out with products that will help her feel amazing again.

What a beautiful thing, right? Let’s touch on a few ways to help customers in that situation feel sexier than ever.

A multitude of things can happen during and after menopause. There is a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone. Libido suffers, which makes it hard for some to connect with their partner, which in many cases leads to no sex. Yet Intimacy is important for a couple, no matter the comfort level in the relationship. What are some solutions you can provide as a retailer?

There are a ton of resources, products and techniques we can suggest for this specific demographic. Sex toys and couples’ games are a great option for some fun and a little bit of taboo naughtiness. Remote-control panties during dinner, massage candles, a feather tickler, finger vibes or other vibrators are toys couples can use to make things sensual and relaxing. Tantric sex and kama sutra are popular for couples that want to reconnect on a spiritual level. This encourages them to bring back the romance. Suggest taking a steamy bubble bath or sending each other naughty notes and pictures during the day. They can meet at the bar and pretend they’re strangers. Get creative!

It’s also not uncommon for a male customer to come in with one huge question: “How do I help my spouse?” It can be frustrating for them also. I always suggest lingerie and most of the products mentioned above, but my biggest suggestion is just to be patient, understanding and educated.

Another issue is decreased sensitivity and blood flow, as well as vaginal dryness — the trifecta that can make sex painful and orgasming difficult. Here is where the lubricants and female arousal products come in. Personally, I tend to recommend water-based brands I know won’t dry out easily. I am a big fan of thicker water bases such as the Wicked Jelle and Sliquid Sassy. However, I also recommend silicone for regular sex. I have found that a lot of women prefer the slickness of the silicone so I recommend brands like Uberlube and Migliori. I tend to stick with the higher-quality silicone lubricants. The more vitamins the better. Another lubricant that has been successful with my older customer base is the CBD lubricants, which tend to help dryness and increase sensation. Keeping it simple and non-intimidating is the key. I also always try to have a large selection of female arousal products that increase blood flow to the clitoris and G-spot.

Much like with our postnatal customers, the onset of menopause can cause the pelvic floor to weaken, leading to painful sex. The vagina doesn’t lubricate as well — thus the need for lubricants — and the tissue is thinner. One thing I often recommend for that is kegel balls, though sometimes this can be a bit much for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with toys. Still, the thing I love about our role as adult retailers is that even when we’re not going to grab that sale, these customers are going to trust our advice. I am always happy to educate them on manual exercises they can do without the use of anything.

Encouraging solo play can be extremely helpful but may be challenging for a woman who has no sex drive and, quite frankly, doesn’t feel sexy. I talk to so many women who are just discovering their bodies later in life. They want to feel sexy; they want to feel pleasure. But remember: sex and masturbation have been taboo subjects for so long, there is usually some hesitation involved. I lean more toward a gentle clitoral stimulator for this reason. Something small, feminine, and quiet. Something ergonomic and easy to hold. Something easy in general.

When I’m helping one of my older first-time customers, I can sometimes sense their nervousness… but I can also sense the excitement in their eyes. The curiosity. Of course for the more experienced ladies, the sky’s the limit and with the plethora of amazing vibes on the market right now, it’s super fun to help them choose whatever catches their eye.

To conclude, I love the direction this industry is going in. It’s evolving in such an amazing way and things that used to cause shame or embarrassment are being normalized like never before. The art of helping customers discover what their bodies are capable of is finally getting some much-needed attention. The more our industry evolves, the more we evolve as retailers who are able to provide the best quality experience for not only our older customers, but all of our customers. We all know menopause can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be the end of our customers’ sex lives. If sex was important before, it’s definitely still important after. Helping a woman feel sexy again and navigate her way around this change in her life, is one of the most rewarding and satisfying parts of the role I play in the adult retail industry.

How Adult Retailers Can Help Customers Get Their Sexy Back Post-Menopause by Jessica DellaMonica originally appeared in XBIZ

Masturbation Mythbusting: Facts About Sex Toy Use And Masturbation In A Relationship

Not too long ago, in a place right here on Earth, the very notion of a person using a sex toy if they were in a relationship seemed, well, a little strange. Not strange in a bad way, of course, but strange in a bit of a judgmental way. The thinking seemed to be: Why do you need to masturbate if you’re getting action from your partner? What also followed, at least back in the day, was the fear from some partners that using a sex toy during masturbation would somehow give them competition. Because, let’s be honest, when you have, say, the vibrating sensation of the Le Wand Point Mini Vibrator (my personal fave at the moment) all cozied up against the clit, perineum, or other erogenous zones, it makes for one hell of a delicious ride.

But just because something is delicious and delivers pleasure literally in the palm of your hand, that doesn’t mean human partners all of a sudden become secondary. In fact, even if the sex toys aren’t being used in bed with a partner and are mostly being used for masturbation, the relationship is better for it. More masturbation leads to a greater understanding of what we want sexually, and our sex life with our partner truly benefits from it. However, myths still remain, so let’s debunk a few, shall we?

Myth #1: “If My Partner Masturbates, I Will Become Obsolete.”

First of all, no. Second of all, NO. That’s simply not how things work. It’s important to note that masturbation isn’t always about sex and sexual feelings. Some masturbate, whether with their hand, a vibrator, the showerhead — or a whole boatload of things depending on how creative you want to be — because they’re stressed, bored, can’t sleep, need a morning pick-me-up, or to give their mental health a boost from oxytocin that’s released when we orgasm. And while some have sex with their partner for the same reason, the fact remains that a masturbating partner will not make the other partner obsolete. Relationships, after all, are about more than sex.

Myth #2: “Sex Toy Use Will Make You No Longer Interested in Having Sex With A Person.”

Although there’s certainly a different level of power between a vibrating toy and a finger or tongue, as well as a variety of patterns that a partner probably can’t deliver, that doesn’t mean that using a sex toy every time you masturbate is going to make you prefer a sex toy to your partner. While there’s no denying that humans are creatures of habit, when it comes to sex and sex-related things, variety is truly the spice of life. You may find that some days you crave the vibration of a vibrator, then the Pleasure Air technology of the Womanizer Premium the next day, then the tongue of your partner the following day. There’s no one way to experience pleasure and in having the options of a sex toy and your partner, you have the best of both worlds.

Myth #3: “Masturbation will lower my desire to get intimate with a partner.”

On the contrary, the more you masturbate the more you’ll want to be intimate with your partner — seriously! The reason for this is that when you’re having regular orgasms, your sex drive is higher than if you’re not having regular orgasms, so you’ll want more sex because of all these regular orgasms you’ll be experiencing during masturbation. How many people have had one orgasm and didn’t immediately think, “Um, I could definitely go for another and another and another?” When your body and brain are revved up from regular masturbation, you’re basically primed at all times, which makes your desire for your partner revved up too.

Myth #4: “When Someone Masturbates, It’s A Sign That They’re Not Sexually Satisfied By Their Partner.”

In the same vein of a partner becoming obsolete simply because one partner regularly masturbates and has a drawer full of goodies to make that experience even more tantalizing, just because your partner masturbates, it doesn’t mean they’re dissatisfied in their sex life with you. Like, not at all — and this can’t be stressed enough. Again, masturbation doesn’t have to be rooted in sexual desire. Orgasms have an endless list of benefits to them and, in addition to that, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to indulge in some one-on-one time. As much as one might want to satisfy their partner and be satisfied by them, sometimes a person just needs and wants to get off. It says nothing about your sex life with your partner or even your relationship in general.

Myth #5: “Using A Toy To Get Off Is Cheating On Your Partner.”

I have come across this one far too often — and with friends who should really know better. One friend came home to find her partner using a vibrator and immediately labeled it “cheating.” But is it cheating when it’s a sex toy or their own hand? If that’s how some of us are now defining the word “cheating,” then we really need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at what the word really means. Because, masturbation, no matter how you do it, is definitely not cheating, and if you or your partner see it as such, then it’s time to sit down and talk about what counts as cheating in your relationship and what doesn’t.

The takeaway for this round of Masturbation Mythbusting? No matter who’s masturbating in the relationship — or if one is doing it more than the other or one partner isn’t doing it at all — the fact remains that it’s a good thing. Masturbation can only enhance a relationship and sexual intimacy. So embrace your solo pleasure time and let your partner do the same. There are only benefits to be had by all.

Masturbation Mythbusting: Facts About Sex Toy Use And Masturbation In A Relationship by Amanda Chatel originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz

Essential Tips for Banking on the Popularity of Anal Play in Retail

Anal sex used to be considered one of the most taboo sexual acts, but that’s certainly not the case anymore. These days, you can pick up any magazine with a sexual health section and you’ll likely read something about backdoor loving. The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior in 2010 found that 20-30% of those surveyed said they regularly engaged in giving and/or receiving anal penetration, so you can imagine how that percentage might look more than a decade later.

These days, pegging is mainstream and analingus isn’t that big of a deal. In other words, a sizeable segment of pleasure product consumers are shopping for anal pleasure products. Plus, while only some customers have penises and only some customers have vaginas, all customers have anuses. When you take that into account, you can see the potential for big sales — if you know your anal ABCs.

For some, however, anal play/sex is still seen as a little scary. Some folks worry about pain, others worry about mess, and some folks don’t even know where to begin. Suffice it to say, there are many reasons people find butt play daunting. With that in mind, today we’re going to look at the basics and discuss what brand-new anal players need to know and how retailers can help support them in their backdoor exploration.

Beginner Butt Toys

While getting started with anal play, beginner toys and kits are important as they can often serve as a jumping-off point for further exploration, allowing users to get used to the feeling of anal and determine what sensations they do or don’t like. Beginner toys can also help users let go of their inhibitions about butt play and understand their body’s specific needs and limitations. These products can also be a means for users to test the waters and possibly figure out they aren’t into butt stuff at all! Knowing that, it’s important to offer your shoppers multiple Anal 101 toys and kits to choose from.

For those new to anal play, it can be helpful to offer sets that let them start small and work their way up, with items such as a dilator set to guide users through larger-sized toys. When it comes to beginner toys, we tend to think “simple” or “basic,” but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of beginner-appropriate toys that bring a little something extra to the table, such as butt plugs with special features like LED lights or that offer unique sensations such as added weight, or with functions like vibration or e-stim. Couples can also venture into anal play together using toys that are remote-controlled.

Know the Basics

Before selling any product, it’s important that staff know how to talk about anal from an informed perspective so that, no matter what a shopper might take home with them, they are prepared for a pleasurable experience.

First: Communication. Pleasurable anal sex starts, continues and ends with communication — not just about limits, boundaries and consent, but also expectations, feelings and any likes/ dislikes that need to be disclosed. The receiving partner’s communication plays a key role in the experience because they are the one who’s in control and whose safety and pleasure is of utmost importance. Offering feedback, including speed changes, positioning, adding lube, or even compliments, is a fantastic way to help make sure everyone involved is having a great time. The giving partner’s job is to be ready and open to this feedback and make any necessary adjustments, and check-ins are a great way to make sure they are present and aware of their partner’s needs.

Second: Relaxation. Don’t forget that the anus is a tight muscular sphincter that’s used to staying closed and keeping stuff in the body, so it needs some TLC to help it get into a more open and receptive place! That means pausing in insertion and spending time relaxing the mind, body and butthole. Licking, touching or running a bullet vibe along the outside of the anus is a great way to wake up the area and boost blood flow and pleasure. Starting slowly with something narrow, like a pinky finger encased in a nitrile glove, is a great way to get the anus accustomed to something being inside of it. Work your way up to something thicker or simply enjoy the sensations that fingers or smaller plugs can offer!

Third: Preparation. This can look like different things for different people, but for the most part, preparation has a lot to do with preparing the anus and rectum for something going inside of it, which often includes using an enema or a douche. We love recommending reusable bulbs because you can avoid the irritating solutions from store-bought brands, plus reduce waste since you can use and reuse them. Remind shoppers that when playing with butts, there’s always a chance of encountering poo — that’s what this part of the body is designed for — so while there’s no way to actually “clean” the area 100%, we can use products to support our GI tracts and make a little more space for fun. Try putting a towel or waterproof blanket down before getting down. It’s also great to have nitrile gloves nearby, and to use a new glove for every new trick or technique you try – that way you can reduce the risk of bringing any bacteria or fluids from the butt to parts of the body where they don’t belong.

Fourth, and very important: Lubrication! Remember, no matter what anal product you’re selling or brand you’re promoting, be sure to remind your customers that friction is anal pleasure’s biggest foe – and it can even cause actual injury! Since the anus, unlike the vagina, does not self-lubricate, purchasing lubricant is a must for customers when buying any anal pleasure product, and an ideal add-on sale for you.

Anal play isn’t just a fad, it’s here to stay. You will always have customers who are curious about butt stuff, so the best thing you can do is have both the knowledge and range of products to satisfy that curiosity. Remember, beginners don’t stay beginners for long and if you can help a shopper safely and healthily navigate their introduction to anal play, odds are they’ll keep coming back as they learn and explore!

Essential Tips for Banking on the Popularity of Anal Play in Retail by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Marketing Power of a Brand Origin Story

When it comes to succeeding in a competitive market, there are some key brand qualities that are incredibly important. Having high-quality products is a must, of course, as is the ability to cultivate lasting relationships with consumers. Fair pricing is also high on the list. There’s another factor, however, that can be the foundation on which a successful brand sits: its origin story.

Marketing research tells us that consumers tend to make buying decisions that are driven by their emotions, and the company history — including founders’ stories — helps build an instant emotional connection that can lead to lasting loyalty. In a world craving connection and authenticity, your brand’s story can be the key that draws people in, keeps them coming back, and inspires them to spread the word within their communities.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are hundreds of “emotional motivators” that can drive consumer behavior. Among the top 10 are consumers’ desires to:

  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Feel a sense of belonging
  • Succeed in life
  • Be the person I want to be

This means that providing origin stories that share the people behind the brand can be key for hooking into consumers’ longing to be seen, to succeed, and to connect. This is why, at Blush, we are open about how my husband Eric Lee and I came to co-found a respected brand with longevity and endurance. Our unique origin story is one of our biggest strengths.

Eric was raised in New York’s Chinatown in the ’70s and ’80s, a time when gang violence was especially prevalent. This set Eric on a path that eventually landed him in prison, and it was while incarcerated that he completed his college degree, learned Spanish and Chinese, and taught himself everything he could about business and finance, all with a focus on self-improvement. He also learned valuable life lessons that could never be learned in school. He put these valuable skills to work once his prison time was complete, and he started a new life and career from scratch. At the age of 34, he had never seen the Internet before and the world around him was entirely new, yet Eric will tell you that going to prison was probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to him. One of his biggest takeaways was the classic, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

Eric and I have had different upbringings, but we both share a deep humility and dedication to hard work. When I was 14, I immigrated to New York City with my mother and started working right away to help support the household. I attended a local city college and majored in finance, and I saw an opportunity early on to meet and connect with people, build relationships, and build a cross-cultural business mindset. I didn’t dream of selling sex toys for a living, but when Eric and I met and fell in love, we began building a business plan that would take advantage of our unique and complementary skill-sets. During this time, I made the acquaintance of a Chinese business owner who worked in pleasure products, and Eric and I were inspired to forge a path in the market and create the company we know today as Blush.

Offering a public origin story can feel challenging, and even scary. It’s a vulnerable feeling to share personal experiences and put yourself out there, in part because we don’t want to be judged by others. But there are countless case studies that show the powerful impact of letting consumers know the “real” story behind the brands they see on shelves, because they often see themselves in what they read and hear! Marketing research has shown us that consumers often perceive a brand to have a “personality” as if it were a human person, and studies show that positive emotions toward a brand play a far greater role in building customer loyalty than even trust. This means a brand’s attributes and backstory are just as important to share as quality standards and product features.

There are lots of different ways to try to harness the power of marketing to take your business to the next level, but it’s important to remember that one of your most powerful marketing tools may have been right in front of you all along. Digital marketing research has found that a well-told story can be an incredibly persuasive form of communication that also helps potential customers relate to you and your brand more deeply than they might with a competitor. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

If you are looking to increase connection with consumers, to boost your company’s profile, or simply to tap into your inherent strength as a brand, look no further than your own backstory. The rich tapestry that you weave when you bring together folks of different backgrounds and experiences can serve as your biggest strength, your most powerful connection, and your key selling point.

A Look at the Marketing Power of a Brand Origin Story by Verna Meng originally appeared in XBIZ