‘Sextech’ Takes On a Bigger Definition in Adult Retail

 

There has been so much buzz lately about the cool things our industry is doing. For example, our celebrity endorsements, product mentions in Forbes articles, and winning design and business awards (outside of adult) — most notably for the new wave of “sextech” products.

How does publicity help retailers of all sizes, and what can you do to make this “product hype” work for you?

Any time a product receives mainstream attention, we all cross our fingers and hope it is our brand or a brand that we carry. As manufacturers, we hope our product placement has paid off, or one of the partnerships we work so hard on comes to fruition. As retailers, we hope we have the right products at the right time, and that the hard work of filling and maintaining a store with perfect inventory becomes both possible and profitable.

What I hear though is that stores are worried that they do not have said mainstream popular products and I am here to tell you, you do! Sextech is not just about Bluetooth connectivity or apps. It is about the types of motors being used, waterproofing, remote capabilities, product warranties, thrusting, gyrating, vibrating, etc. It is all the components you have in your everyday pleasure product and toolbox. Your manufacturers have taken care of the “tech” part. Do not feel as if your inventory is any less important because you do not carry a lot of higher price point items, or you do not have what you consider “fancy” product. You have everything you need to show your customer the technology our industry is infamous for.

In turn, I also see stores spend way too much on what they think are “sextech” products, only to have them sit there because they stand out, and not in a good way. There is no perfect solution to what the perfect product assortment is. It is a constant method of trial and error, and getting comfortable isn’t an option when new products come out as fast as they do for us.

Testers are a key part of showing off the sextech you currently carry. Partner with your distributors and manufacturers to make tester sections a main priority in your store. Show your customer what these toys are capable of. Maybe it is a 28-speed wand they are looking for, or a 20-speed dual-stimulation suction toy. Perhaps a remote panty vibe with an insane range, or a warming stroker with extra features and benefits. This could be a new-to-you customer that really wants a product with above-average waterproofing features they can travel with. Easy! You have that in your stores, but probably do not think of it as a “sextech” product.

Incorporate magazine articles, award mentions, publicity promos, etc., into your displays. If you carry a product that was nominated for or won an XBIZ award, show it off! This type of reinforced buying knowledge builds credibility with your customers. They may not choose the item that receives the hype, but the fact you carry that caliber of product is what is most important. If you need help finding printed materials to use, ask your distributors and manufacturers. It is so easy to make something like this for a store, and when one person wants or needs it, it probably means others do too.

Put an “award” section in your store that is not just employee favorites. Curate it with signage and information that shows why these products stand out! Start a rewards program in your store and include specific items each month that help customers accrue points towards winning merchandise. This helps focus their attention outside of what they were looking for, and to buy into your store and its branding.

The technology advancement in our industry is part of who makes us what we are. We continually improve our products, regardless of how good our options become. We want more, we want better, and we want it faster. We spend so much time on educating each other and ourselves on the wonderful benefits of our brands and items. Let these everyday technologies work for you in the way they are intended — to seamlessly fit in and complement your other product inventory.

Customers continue to get savvier as their ability to access data and information on product grows. In turn, retailers are training and educating their customers at a much more elevated rate than ever before. What we need to remember is that these customers know what they are taught. Teach them what sextech in this industry really is.

‘Sextech’ Takes On a Bigger Definition in Adult Retail by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Read Lube Ingredients, Determine Best Options for Shoppers

Not all lubes are right for all bodies. What may be a great lube for your best friend could be not so great for you.

Buying a lubricant is like buying a face cream. You need a hydrating cream that is good on wrinkles, and so does your best friend. But you have combination skin and need SPF, and he has a serious problem with clogged pores… Obviously, you are not going to buy the same face cream. Your needs are the same, but your faces are different.

We need to treat lube the same way. Two people might need a good water-based lube for use with toys but that’s where the similarity ends — why would they both buy the same lube? Our bodies are different. Our lubes should be, too.

I think as an industry, we understand the concept of “this lube is good for anal” or “this lube is great for sensual massage,” but we come up short when it comes to, “this lube is good for people who are susceptible to allergies” or “this lube is good for people with celiac” or “this lube helps with vaginal dryness.”

Considering the oceans of brands and products out there, there should be no trouble helping your customer find the lube that is right for their needs.

Here are four easy rules for lube:

  1. If you can’t find the ingredient list — don’t offer that lube to your customers!
  2. Don’t buy any lube that has ingredients you wouldn’t want in your body. The inner walls of vaginas and colons absorb everything.
  3. If your customers are sensitive to allergens, pay attention to ingredients that might cause allergic reactions, like fancy botanicals or PEGs.
  4. If the customer is prone to yeast infections, pay attention to ingredients that raise osmolality (like propylene glycol or propanediol).

Here is a quick primer on how to read an ingredient list:

Ingredients are required to be listed in decreasing order. In other words, the majority of what is in the tube/bottle/tub is whatever is listed first. Usually the first and second ingredients make up 90-98 percent of the volume. The rest of the ingredients are added in minute quantities.

Some examples of small amount equal safe ingredients: Potassium sorbate, a common artificial preservative, is caustic and can cause skin irritation in large quantities, but in volumes up to 0.5 percent, it is totally innocuous. When it is listed as one of the last ingredients — no need to worry.

Propylene glycol is also fine in small quantities. Anything below 5 percent should not raise your lubricant’s osmolality to dangerous levels, but if you see it as the first or second ingredient in your lubricant, you should definitely beware.

If you don’t know what an ingredient is, do a web search. Make sure you are A-OK with every ingredient. Some of the scary-sounding ones are completely harmless; some of the more common ones are pretty gross.

Also, a word to the wise: If a customer needs to change lubes, or buys a lubricant that they don’t like, check out the ingredient label before suggesting another lubricant to them, and compare the old against the new to ensure that you recommend them a different formula.

With just a small amount of effort, we can totally up our lube game, both for ourselves and for our customers. Knowledge is power and everything you need to know is as close as your smart phone. So, what are you waiting for?

Happy lubing!

How to Read Lube Ingredients, Determine Best Options for Shoppers by Rebecca Pinette-Dorin originally appeared in XBIZ

What Does It Mean to Be ‘Sex-Positive’?

It is never ever too late to learn more about sex! We as educators in the adult industry should advocate for this in our daily lives. Whether that is by speaking to customers in-store, sharing on social media or talking to our children, family and friends. The more we talk about sexual health and wellness, the less taboo it becomes. I choose to not hide where I work or what I do for a living, I take a more open approach and try to cultivate why our careers are valid and needed. I am incredibly open about being sex-positive in my personal life and on my social media accounts; the way I see it is if I educate one person or help one person find pleasure it is all worth it to me.

Most people are in fact having sex or want to, but yet some people have never considered a sex toy or solo sex. Consider why this is, and when you got your first sex toy. When was the first time you masturbated or even heard the word “orgasm?” Did your parents openly talk to you about pleasure, masturbation or your anatomy? In addition to the sex talk at home (or lack thereof), think back to health class in school. This is a big part as to why this industry is so important. I would argue that every community needs a local adult store — if I could have it my way, then that would be the case.

Sex education in schools needs to be revamped. In addition to doing away with abstinence-based sex-ed, which is severely outdated and potentially harmful, sex education should also include LGBTQ individuals and relationships.

Sex education should be pleasure-focused and we should teach proper anatomy and terms. I personally learned more from Ducky DooLittle’s anatomy pictures than I ever did in school. I would also go a step further and say that we should teach our children about gender identity and sexual orientation. Sex education often assumes students are all heterosexual and identify as a man or woman, which is simply not the case.

If none of this can be taught in school or by your parents or guardians, where are we to learn it from? This is another reason why adult stores are so important and why our careers matter!

So, what does it mean to be sex-positive? I think most would agree that that it entails accepting all consensual expressions of sexuality, nudity and kink as healthy. It encourages sexual pleasure, informed consent and advocates sex education. Sex is not shameful, taboo or unhealthy in any way. I believe at Excitement and in this industry, we have taken long strides to change with the times and be more inclusive.

This is where we as educators play a vital role in getting the proper information out in our communities. Being in the adult industry for almost 12 years, I have noticed more people coming into our stores for the first time, and reaching out to me online with questions. If you remember back to the ‘80s or ‘90s, you may recall adult stores being dirty or dark, and going into rental stores that hid adult movies and mags behind curtains. Most toys back then took batteries and were made of jelly-like material. We have come a long way and will continue to evolve as we move forward. The customers coming in for toys are asking questions and we can provide not only the answers they are looking for, but also a safe space to feel welcomed and accepted. They are not just purchasing any random toy and leaving. They are interested in the material, how it will function and feel for their bodies. We are the sex educators that they never had in school; we can change people’s lives. That — and understanding my own sexuality and journey — is why I do what I do.

An estimated 5.6 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer according to a recent poll by Gallup, and we need to be able to service all these consumers. So how is this affecting our industry and products? I, for one, am seeing a huge trend in shoppers seeking out more toys that are gender non-specific and that are versatile in their functions. To begin, you need to have products in your stores that represent this — meaning we should refrain from gendering toys. Also, we should not assume someone’s gender, their sexual orientation or their relationship status. We should use gender-neutral packaging, signs and wording to match so that we are being inclusive to everyone. Be sure to use proper terminology to not exclude anyone, because in reality, a specific product can be universal to more than one gender. For example, in the industry and in our stores, we have begun saying “vagina owner” or “penis owner” instead of female or male. One of my biggest pet peeves as a lesbian is that I do not want to purchase a product that has a picture of a male-and-female couple on the box, it just does not line up with who I am or what I am looking for. We need to be able to demonstrate to others that we are in fact inclusive. I love seeing companies in the industry using same-sex partners, all body types and all skin tones more than ever before.

Many manufacturers have done an amazing job at being inclusive and many more are redoing their packaging and taking this into consideration for new product and marketing releases. The CalExotics Boundless line is one example of gender-neutral packaging that works, and I am in love with it. Le-Wand, b-Vibe, Nu Sensuelle, NS Novelties and Sportsheets have all done an impressive job of being gender-neutral and inclusive with their packaging and marketing.

We are among the few industries that have been booming during the pandemic, leaving us at an advantage. We should take this time and invest in our future and keep focusing on evolving and striving to be more and more inclusive.

What Does It Mean to Be ‘Sex-Positive’? by Loretta Goodling originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Expand Retail Sales With BDSM Essentials

These days, BDSM is more popular than ever, and with so many products to choose from, some adult retailers can feel overwhelmed figuring out what kind of kinky stuff to stock in their stores. And while everyone starts somewhere, it’s essential to sell more than simply beginner-level gear — because a beginner only stays a beginner for so long! Today we’re going to talk about stocking your shop to satisfy all experience and curiosity levels and maybe even help your “vanilla” customers explore their kinky sides!

Start with the basics

Let’s be honest, some BDSM items are tried-and-true basics that would be right at home in any sex shop or lingerie boutique. You probably already have them in stock! These would include blindfolds and sensory play items like feather ticklers. And who doesn’t love fur handcuffs? While we’re talking restraints, sets that easily turn any bed into a sexy home dungeon-like restraint systems appeal to a wide range of shoppers.

Mix it up

We’ve covered the basics, and now it’s time to add a bit more variety. Nipple play implements as well as ball gags are easy additions to any store and make it easy for shoppers to level up their sensory play game. Add in some harnesses, sex swings and sensory play items that are higher quality and made to last well into users’ exploration journeys. Plus, displayed together with some creative mannequin placement, these items make an incredibly eye-catching BDSM display!

When shoppers are exploring something new, kits allow them to try out several items in one purchase, an ideal choice for folks on a budget. Keep a few kits on hand to help your shoppers explore.

Take It to the Next Level

Now it’s time to consider stocking larger BDSM pieces as well as items that cater to specific fetishes, such as items for shoppers who are interested in puppy play. These types of products help you hold on to your customers when they are ready to take their BDSM play to the next level and cater to a range of interests and curiosities in order to accommodate all the kinky folks in your community.

If You Stock It, They Will Come

Lots of folks find the things they like and stick with them. That’s why it can be daunting for a shop with a more “vanilla” type of clientele to set about building a selection of BDSM offerings. But by keeping a healthy stock of BDSM basics on hand from as many kinky categories as you can, you can give your customers the opportunity to learn and explore — something they’ll appreciate. Shoppers who, in the past, may have felt the need to brave a completely different kind of establishment to satisfy their BDSM curiosities will be able to start their experimentation in a shop they are already comfortable with, and you will get to keep your customers coming back for more.

How to Expand Retail Sales With BDSM Essentials by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

How Retailers Can Embrace the Latest Trends in Digital Intimacy

I don’t know about you but it seems like more and more of my life goes online every day. In one way, it is wonderful because I can literally make friends all over the world. In another, it is awful because I find myself missing the little daily intimacies with a loved one or friends.

And while a nice coffee house ASMR background track is a pleasure to write to, it doesn’t have the 3D impact of the smell of the coffee or the whoosh of cool air as the door opens up to the possibility of a new friend.

Keep in mind we are all learning to embrace Zoom and Skype and Only fans pages, but we still crave basic human interaction.

Don’t worry adult retailers; if there is one thing our industry excels at, it’s embracing new technology. We retailers shouldn’t curse the darkness; we should embrace the light shining on our faces from all those mobile device and laptop screens — because technology changes, but people don’t.

There is still room in the market to serve our local clientele and make their online explorations easier and more satisfying for them, and more profitable for us.

Here are three ways to take advantage of the new digital trends in your store:

  • Embrace Bluetooth-enabled technology
  • Beef up your lingerie section
  • Carry more interactive toys that talk to or react to the customer input

Bluetooth Technology

There are some amazing toys available on the market that can really shrink the distance between partners when they are close enough to a Wifi source. We-Vibe’s Bluetooth technology has been around for a good while and their app is easy to manage on a smartphone. Satisfyer has recently stepped their game up in regards to Bluetooth technology and they are in the process of converting their whole line to be compatible.

Many of the Bluetooth toys come with longer warranties and companies that stand behind the quality of their creations and are being equipped with better rechargeable batteries. Toys that last longer and don’t create toxic waste by burning up multiple sets of batteries are a better value for the customer and a better choice for the environment. That makes them an easy up-sell.

Lingerie

Lingerie has been the absolute sleeper best seller for me in 2020-21. I personally think those casual Friday Zoom meetings have morphed into a little something extra spicy.

Not to mention the rise of cam girls. A lot of the local strippers came in and bought poles when the clubs got shut down amid the pandemic, and have figured out an all-new home-based business model. The nice thing for us is that they come in once or twice a week to freshen up their naughty wardrobe.

Body-stockings are a huge seller for us, and anything colorful and fun is flying out of the door. Be sure to stock a good variety in many sizes and get feedback on what the girls in your area are looking for.

Last summer, after the movie “365 Days” debuted on Netflix, I placed an order based on the fashion I saw in the movie and it disappeared in a weekend. This trend made anything strappy and slightly European-influenced super hot right now.

Interactive Toys

I think there is plenty of room for expansion and I love to see the creativity that this business has to identify and meet the needs of our clientele.

The Dirty Talk line by Pipedream has been hugely popular for us because everyone enjoys getting cheered on every now and then. I would love a toy that tells me I’m pretty, and everything is going to be okay. If it did it with Charlie Hunnam’s voice or with a nice Irish lilt, it would double the value to me. (Hint, hint manufacturers.)

Of course it goes without saying that keeping your store scrupulously clean and providing hand sanitizer and masks, as well as incorporating touch-less payment technology where possible are the bare minimum of standards if you want people to feel comfortable coming out into the world again.

Thankfully my staff and I have stayed well during these strange times and look forward to the time when we can break the testers back out for our customers, and maybe one day hop on a plane and see old friends from the business again.

But until then, I’ll see you on Zoom and I’ll be wearing something cute.

 

How Retailers Can Embrace the Latest Trends in Digital Intimacy by Tami Rose originally appeared in XBIZ

2 Practices Retail Sales Associates Can Use to Cultivate Customer Loyalty

As retailers, we are all trying to create the ultimate customer service experience in the hopes that it brings in more returning customers. How do we create this kind of exceptional experience that leads to people coming back? We started Cupid’s Closet eight years ago with deep passion for creating outstanding customer service experiences. Giving customers an experience like this goes beyond just being friendly or smiling. It has to go much deeper than that. To me, outstanding customer service is not something you can fake. It has to come from a place of wanting to make real and deeper connections with people and offering them a unique and catered learning experience. I have noticed through my many years of sales experience that using these practices has led to happy repeat customers.

While working in an adult store has its many upsides, the one downside it may present is that it may create a barrier with some customers that other retail environments may not experience. This is because our society inherently teaches us that sex, and anything relating to sex, is perverse and something to be ashamed of. When a customer walks in, after greeting them, you can tell almost immediately whether or not that customer is comfortable around sex and engaging in conversation about it. It is extremely important to make it a space for every type of person who walks in to exist in their own truth. No matter if that person is a sex worker, a kinkster, someone trying to spice things up, or someone who has never been to an adult store and may be uncomfortable in the space. If someone is uncomfortable being in an adult store and isn’t interested in talking as much, it doesn’t mean you still cannot connect with them. In my experience the best way to make space and connect with many types of people is through the use of empathy.

Empathy is extremely important to practice when engaging with customers because the better you can understand someone, the better you can support and connect with them. Some things to think of when engaging with a customer is to look at their nonverbal cues like body language, voice and tone, and keep in consideration what might have motivated them to approach you, what is at stake for them and how they are feeling. Learning how to become more empathetic with customers is not one of those things that you will be an expert at overnight. It takes a lot of practice and is something I try to improve on every day. But utilizing this tool will help improve relationships with customers and will help them feel comfortable at your business. Places where customers can feel welcomed and accepted are places they will return to.

One of the best parts about working in an adult shop is the opportunity it gives sales associates to help people on a deeper level. Because of this, when engaging with each customer, I try to leave them with either an outside resource or offer them a little more knowledge about something they are interested in. This is so beneficial because this is something so simple that goes such a long way with customers. This can be anything from giving someone a new idea on how to use a product, experience intimacy, or giving them resources for them to look into to further their sexual experiences. Not only does this establish you or your associate as an industry expert but it also shows that you genuinely care about the customer and not just their money. This also shows the customer that you have thought about what might benefit them and provided them with a catered experience that goes beyond what other businesses do. For retailers, this means it is crucial to have a well-educated staff and to make sure they are constantly learning not only about products but sexuality and other resources connected to products. If you have a staff that is constantly learning and trying every day to become better associates, you will see an increase in customer loyalty.

My many years in retail have taught me so much about how to engage with customers in order to give them the best customer service possible. Customer service is a life-long learning experience that I truly enjoy being a part of. Through my experiences I have noticed a direct correlation with using these two practices and repeat happy customers. These practices have helped me become more empathetic to customers and create deeper relationships with them. In addition to practicing empathy, offering customers resources gives them a one-of-a-kind experience that they cannot get from other retailers or online stores. I am confident implementing these practices in your workplace will help show your customers that you and your associates are experts in this industry, and prove to them that you truly care about their well-being over their money.

2 Practices Retail Sales Associates Can Use to Cultivate Customer Loyalty by Brittany Greenberg originally appeared in XBIZ

Is Cannabis Plus Sex Toys the New ‘Netflix and Chill?’

As legal cannabis slowly creeps its way across the continent, we find ourselves in the midst of a new evolution of acceptance. What better industry to embrace the once prohibited pot than ours? Unfounded oppression is a topic that we know all too well. Those who once turned a snubbed nose up at the thought of the hippie drug have now opened their minds at the promise of pain relief.

With self-care stepping up as the movement of the day, we can’t help but look at cannabis as a viable companion to sexual exploration. The health and healing benefits of cannabis are endless, and marrying the two can add a unique twist to a playtime routine.

I highly recommend consulting with an experienced budtender to help understand the broad differences in strains and various forms of consumption. Grasping the correct fit for each individual (much like sex toys) is what truly translates to the ultimate sexual experience.

Sativas are invigorating and energizing and are often associated with a “head high.” They enhance creativity and productivity and are known for their imaginative properties.

Indicas are euphoric with a full-body buzz. Some refer to them as “InDaCouch” because of their deep relaxation effects.

Cannabis consumption does not need to include a high at all. Using a high CBD, low THC strain can have all the grandeur of health benefits and pain relief without the buzz.

THC and CBD come in many different forms. Dry herb, edibles, oils, suppositories and even bath products are all available, making consumption accessible to all, including those with disabilities. This means, for example, those with hand disabilities no longer need to worry about the ability to hold a pipe or bong.

A sativa pre-roll to heighten your senses and electrify your imagination? Or maybe an indica edible to slow down and feel the moment. Not fond of “feeling high”? A topical like a CBD lubricant can be used to relax muscles. The possibilities are endless.

And the facts?

Stanford researchers found that cannabis users statistically have more sex, and this includes all sexes, races, ages, education levels and income groups. Cannabis can even prolong orgasm in men and women. Most importantly? Cannabis lowers your inhibitions without total intoxication, allowing the user to indulge their senses entirely.

Masturbating with intention is not a luxury that is afforded to everyone. Those that have trouble finding orgasm may become frustrated and are much less likely to keep trying and exploring their bodies. The addition of an indica will not only increase the response of your body but restrain discouraging thoughts that can interrupt your session.

Relaxants and desensitizers are a controversial topic. Blocking your body of its natural response to inform you when you have reached your discomfort or pain maximum is not what I would consider safe sex. Recommend to shoppers that they ditch the numbing agents and try an indica to relax muscles instead, regardless of orifice! This relaxation is helpful for both oral and anal sex but is particularly advantageous for those experiencing vaginosis and using vaginal dilators.

And how about those experiencing PTSD? We may make jokes about needing a medical cannabis prescription for “anxiety,” but the truth is that cannabis really does have the capability to ease anxiety and enhance a consensual experience. This is no small feat to a trauma survivor desiring intimacy.

So how does this affect your pleasure product business?

Your customers are already buying cannabis. They are already taking part and indulging in CBD and THC products. And if they aren’t, they’re about to. It’s time to look at how the marriage of sex and pot can improve your sales techniques and affect your bottom line.

Adding a section of rolling papers, bongs, pipes and even some deodorizing candles is a welcome inclusion for your customers. Dispensaries (at least in Canada) are legally unable to carry much in the way of accessories, and most head shops are dark, dingy and uncomfortable for the average customer. Offering these products not only saves the consumer the third trip to the head shop but also opens the door to associating the two industries.

Connecting with your customer and learning about their cannabis use and preferences sets the tone for your sale and the type of product you should guide them to. Because we all know, what they come in for is never what they really want.

Show your indica-using customer to the wands for an indulgent masturbation session. The combination of a tingle through your skin and a wand between your legs is unparalleled. Or perhaps your sativa-using customer is looking for a couple’s vibe or handcuffs to introduce into their partner play and explore a brave new world of kink.

Diversifying your business and evolving with the times is always important, but having the opportunity to incorporate this newly recognized industry in a way that increases our pleasure product culture is truly exceptional.

Is Cannabis Plus Sex Toys the New ‘Netflix and Chill?’ by Sarah Franson originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at Toy Aesthetics, Functions That Today’s Consumers Demand

As with any business, adult retailers must adapt to customers’ requirements. Changes are afoot within the industry, and trends are evolving within Europe. A perfect example of this, which has been ongoing, is tech toys. Toys that connect to your phone, that are controllable across the internet and give the feeling that you’re there with your partner in the same room (even though you may be thousands of miles apart). What an age we live in! And who knows how far this tech will go…

A lot of people (including myself) love tech. Stick Bluetooth connectivity into anything and I’m sold (I’m the proud owner of a Bluetooth toothbrush. I have no idea why, and if someone could explain what the point of it is, I’d really appreciate it!) But these techy features are becoming commonplace in the industry and people are hunting for something new. Sure, it’s great to have a toy crammed with features, but it’s not as exciting as it once was. That’s not to say they aren’t as innovative, but just that techy app-based toys are becoming the norm in society, and experienced toy users are searching for the next big thing.

As a retailer and wholesaler, I’m seeing a new demand in adult products and customer requirements within Europe. People are looking for pretty. They want something that will look beautiful on their nightstand, as well as feel amazing during use. They want dazzling products that look just as good as they feel. I’ve seen hundreds of stunning toys over my years in the industry, but many of them just don’t quite live up to the claims. Some may leave the user feeling unfulfilled and even a little disappointed, and we all know how frustrating that can be!

Getting the balance between a toy’s pleasure level and its appearance is tricky. Customers are now searching for toys to look like something they would buy from a designer boutique but that also deliver earth-shattering orgasms every time. Often the balance is impossible as motors can be clunky and unsightly, controls may need to be implemented differently or the design of the toy may need to be completely changed to bring those perfect sensations the user craves. All this can affect the appearance of a pleasure device drastically and ruin this important balance. But let’s face it, there is no holy grail, and manufacturers won’t get it handed to them on a plate. They have to keep plugging at designs until they manage to achieve this delicate balance.

A number of devices are making their way onto the market that have achieved a perfect balance of appearance and sensations, and these are quickly becoming favorites among consumers. They may not be the cheapest of devices (some retailing as much as $200), but people are seeking something new and exciting to explore, and many are prepared to spend that little more to delve into areas they may not have explored before.

Devices like this usually come in elegant, luxurious packaging and make the consumer feel as if they are buying into a concept, not just a product. Crisp, clean, bold designs help to add to this experience giving them a fresh look (and moving away from the bright pink, tacky looking designs of the 90s). No longer do pleasure-product lovers want to settle for the cheapest toy on the market.

Over the next few months, I’m expecting to see even more ribbons, more textured packaging and cleaner, crisper designs on products within Europe. Packaging that looks beautiful on the shelf in any store, shouting “you know you want me” to every customer that passes it. We have already seen an increase in this style here, and as more new devices hit the market, I predict that we’re going to see this trend explode into a celebration of color, simplicity and quality.

I was recently sent a sample of a rather elegant-looking device that was delivered beautifully. The packaging of the product included a delicate ribbon that I had to untie to open the box. And once I did, the toy was revealed to me, lying on a soft, smooth bed of sponge-like material contrasting against the product color. It was such an experience to open. I felt like I was opening something special, something luxurious. This is a trend that is starting to surface once again.

Customers are looking for something to make them pause and take in the beauty of what is in front of them. They want to be thrilled both in the first few seconds of opening the packaging and the first few moments beneath the sheets.

A pleasure product has to bring the most enjoyable stimulations it can, but if it can do that and give them the feeling that they have bought into something special, surely, it’s onto a winner.

A Look at Toy Aesthetics, Functions That Today’s Consumers Demand by Daniel Miller originally appeared in XBIZ

Tips for Overcoming Social Media Advertising Obstacles

Recently while browsing Facebook, I came across some advertisements for cannabis and magic mushrooms. Anyone who has attempted to create ad campaigns on Facebook will know that this is against their polices.

Maybe we can learn a thing or two from the cannabis industry. Of course, we wish to play by the rules and that being said, we have the opportunity to do so and still take advantage of tapping into social media traffic.

By no means is this an easy task and still organic traffic, affiliate marketing and SEO are king. In an article written by Andy Kinsey, he states, “At CES in 2019 and previously, the [adult] industry has been basically shunned despite some huge leaps forward in tech.”

I decided to look into this more to see how they were allowed to advertise such products and why my lingerie ads are always being rejected for being too risqué.

Here is what I found:

They do not mention their product in the title: Many of us would use product titles in our ads in order to grab attention. In this case, however, they would name their ads something similar but directly associated with their product. For example, they used “tomato plants.” From my experience, I would use words such as “sexy,” “intimate,” “lust-worthy” which would always get flagged. Once I switched to “Party,” “Night life,” “Fun”, etc., I found that Facebook and other social media platforms were more willing to accept the ad.

They do not use any images of the products: In these cannabis ads, there were no pictures of the product. Instead, similar to the above, they would use an image associated with cannabis. I attempted to try this and found that out of five ads, two were approved when I used our logo or a picture of people having fun in a nightclub setting rather than of products.

There is no website link in the ads, only direct message options: You will not find a website linked to the ad but you will have the opportunity to message the company. From there, you are greeted with an automated response that takes you directly to their site. When I tried to link an ad to my online store, it was rejected. Don’t quote me on this — I think social media platforms may check the site to see if it falls under their guidelines. When I did try the messenger option, I had potential customers message us. They were then greeted with a link which pointed to our online store.

So, what can be done?

Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to engage in advertising on social media. Some may slip through the cracks, but soon after they will be removed.

While reviewing a few adult ads on Facebook, I noticed that some companies are having their staff read reviews from customers. This does give that personal touch however, I did try this and my ad was declined.

Try getting educational: When it comes to sex and sexual exploration, education comes first — because knowledge is power. In your ad copy or imagery (or even your regular feed posts), aim to promote sexual education or well-being in general. This can help your content be viewed as informational as opposed to being sexually suggestive.

Utilize Google: Just because Facebook doesn’t permit sexual wellness ads doesn’t mean your ad game is over. Google is still a great traditional resource for search results. Work with your Google Ad manager to set up ads for search and Google Shopping. And keep in mind — Google has an ad policy of its own for adult items, so be sure to carefully review the terms.

Explore other platforms with caution: More popular platforms like Snapchat and TikTok can be explored but because the majority of their users are under-18, this may not be the best source of advertising.

Harness your marketing genius: Get creative with the ways you can run your social media campaigns. As stated earlier, try branding as an educational service rather than being in the business of sexual pleasure.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the challenges of social media marketing. Although there are some uphill hikes, there is still some hope when it comes to Facebook pages, Instagram posts, YouTube videos and that wonderful share button feature. As long as our customers are talking about us, posting reviews, and happy, we are still in the social media game.

In summary, yes, adult products have obstacles when it comes to advertising. It’s all about keeping social spaces appropriate for all audiences and ages. However, you can utilize educational content for your target audience on social media to draw traffic to your website instead. Paid ad space on dating- or sex-centered websites and apps is also a great alternative. And lastly, remember there are still traditional PPC and keyword-driven adult ads you can utilize.

Tips for Overcoming Social Media Advertising Obstacles by Jason Dayal originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Promote Wellness, Education Through Our Own Communication

 

As part of the adult goods market, I bet that you’re open to talking about sex toys — at least with your peers in the industry.

At every stage of the chain, from manufacturing through distribution all the way to retail, sex toy talk is our bread and butter.

But do you openly discuss sex toys with your partner? How about your wider family? What about your friends? Would you mention sex toys to the acquaintance asking about your workday?

If you’re anything like me, you probably would — as long as it feels right.

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t talk about sex toys with my mum. She helped me furnish my bondage space and my gold whip has proven to be the perfect finishing touch for her favorite little black dress.

I’ve even asked my dad to review cock rings and masturbators. (Mum passed on the feedback.)

Reading this, you’d probably assume that I had the most liberal upbringing imaginable. Truth be told, it was very conservative. Dating was out of the question, let alone sex.

So, to explain what led me to this industry is a story for another day.

For now, the point is that my openness and, let’s face it, my tendency to overshare, has had a positive impact on my relationship with my parents. If I can talk to them about sex toys, then I can talk to them about anything.

Yes, I’m lucky that they are receptive to what I have to say and always listen without judgement, but that’s not the case for everyone, whether the other party in the conversation is a parent, partner, friend or otherwise.

Why we should open up

Now imagine that it’s not you who’s talking about sex toys, but rather, the customer. That person for whom you designed, manufactured, distributed or retailed that toy wants to tell someone about it. But for whatever reason — or reasons — particular to their situation, they feel unable to.

As part of the adult goods industry, we can play a role in normalizing sex toy talk and encouraging open and honest discussion — actually, make that celebration — of the role that these products play as a healthy and acceptable part of everyday life.

When we are comfortable talking about sex toys with those who are outside of our industry, we are better placed to advise customers who want to share their experiences, either conversationally or intimately, with people in their lives.

So, here are five tips on how we can normalize sex toy talk in our own lives and help customers to do the same.

  1. Be negotiable.

Talking about sexual activity, whether it involves toys or not, can be a delicate topic for some people. If you’re comfortable with it but others in the conversation are not, then negotiate a middle ground, which includes everyone but alienates no one.

Rather than adopting an all-or-nothing approach, meeting people in the middle and establishing ground rules for what is (and is not) okay to discuss creates a safe space that can help people to open up gradually over time.

Requesting, not demanding, that the topic be discussed and framing it as of mutual interest, not self-indulgence, can go a long way towards getting people on board.

  1. Be respectful.

Establishing boundaries for what can be discussed is one thing, remaining within them is another. If you can talk about sex toys in a way that will make others receptive to it, this will make them more likely to not only listen, but also contribute to the conversation.

They key is to remain respectful of their comfort level, remembering that people will not always verbalize their discomfort. So, pay attention to body language for clues as to how your sex toy talk is making others feel. In some cases, you may have to narrow the boundaries you first thought were okay, while in others you may get to expand them!

  1. Be honest.

When we let people in, others often let us in. (No pun intended.) What I mean is that talking honestly about our own experiences with sex toys — and that doesn’t have to mean usage — can show a certain vulnerability that people appreciate. In return, you’d be surprised how much people begin to open up to you about themselves.

Being honest about your experiences can also be educational. Frankness about your likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t work for you, might be exactly what someone wanted to hear but was too afraid to ask. When your sex toy talk is reciprocated, you might even learn a thing or two.

  1. Be non-judgmental.

Regardless of whether you’re talking to someone who’s new to discussing or using sex toys, or a seasoned pro at either, there are times it’s best to just listen.

While you may have your opinions about what they are saying, part of normalizing sex toy talk is not passing judgment on someone else’s experiences. Here, it’s not only your words and tone that matter, but also your body language.

Use neutral terms, a calm tone and soothing language, and if you’re going to offer advice, frame it as a suggestion, not a criticism or a command. Go for warm, positive, open gestures, and maintain eye contact without staring. Ensuring your body language matches your oral language will show that you are sincere and trustworthy.

  1. Be supportive.

If someone is opening up to sex toy talk, then be supportive. Whether they are discussing needs or desires they have already acted on, or are contemplating, showing that you are there for them in a respectful and non-judgmental way reinforces the view of sex toys as a healthy and acceptable part of adult life. As long as the activity is safe, consensual and pleasurable for everyone involved, knowing they have your support can only make them feel even better.

These tips can be an effective way to accelerate the normalizing of conversations around sex toys and their role as a wellness tool. I’m not saying we need to tell anyone and everyone, “I make/sell/use dildos and vibrators.” Rather, if we want to increase mainstream awareness and celebration of sex toys, then we need to be open about our experiences and open to tailoring our message to best suit our audience.

How to Promote Wellness, Education Through Our Own Communication by Vanessa Rose originally appeared in XBIZ