Category Archives: Interview

INTERVIEW: Julia Akers, Kamorii

There’s a new sex-ed school where you don’t need to turn up on time, wear a uniform (unless you want to) or get six of the best for being naughty (unless you really want to). Kamorii aims to provide – with style and substance – adults around the world the knowledge with which to enjoy great sex and intimacy.

Founder Julia Akers proves to be most receptive to questioning, providing a unique insight into the behind the scenes development of the Kamorii website, online marketing issues and more. And while the website boasts HUNDREDS of beautifully illustrated sex positions and guides (and much more) you’ll understand the absence of such images here – what a shame!

Julia Akers, Founder of Kamorii. Interview with Lascivious Marketing [credit: Kamorii]
Julia Akers, Founder of Kamorii [credit: Kamorii]
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning. Who or what is Kamorii, how was it conceived, and when did it start trading?

JULIA AKERS: Kamorii is the web’s first comprehensive sexual technique website created by women. Our purpose is to use tech to help transform the quality of people’s intimate relationships and take them on an exciting journey of sexual exploration. Our first product, kamorii.com, was launched in early September and we will be releasing other products in 2018. There are literally 1000’s of sexual techniques and positions out there and we make learning them easy and fun. Kamorii has 86 guides, 1000+ illustrations and 540+ sex positions. We cover tantric sex, man & woman user guides, intimacy, kama sutra, kinky time and solo play. We have also created the first ever Sex Position Player with 100+ sequences to play. Trying out different techniques and positions will inject sex life longevity and fun into people’s relationships.

The idea was conceived from my own experience of low quality sex advice and was inspired by the findings of a few studies. A 2015 survey by the UK’s National Union of Students, found that 60% of students use porn for sex education. This worried us greatly as porn is purely camera pleasing material and using it for sex guidance can cause major issues for young people. Simply Google “risk of porn for young people” and you will see that this is a very hot topic. We are therefore happy to see so many 18 – 25 year olds joining Kamorii.

Kamorii also responds to the findings of the 3rd National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. These remarkable British surveys are amongst the largest and most detailed scientific studies of sexual behaviour in the world. Principal Investigator Professor Dame Johnson (UCL) stated,

“Positive sexual experiences are related to health and well-being throughout the life course, and it’s time for this to be given wider recognition by health workers, educators, and society as a whole. We need to do more to create an environment in which it is easier for people to discuss sexual well-being as an integral part of the conversation we have with people about our health.”

We hope that our products will go some way to responding to these highlighted needs to improve people’s sexual knowledge and experiences.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-category-selection [credit: Kamorii]
A fund of naughty (and very nice) knowledge awaits… [credit: Kamorii]
Anyone visiting the Kamorii website sees there is a solid raison d’être driving it all. When you first got the idea for the website, what did you think was missing online that you felt Kamorii could provide?
During our research we observed significant gaps in sexual technique advice. First we noted that most websites are owned by old brands which have outdated web design, minimal content, low quality illustration and mainly exist to push products. The online magazines and tabloids tend to use sex advice as click bait and unfortunately they dominate Google searches in this area due to their high domain authority. This means that most people will only see low quality snippets of sex advice designed purely to grab attention. One site we do love is OMGYes.com as this is a beautifully constructed site, but this is strictly focused on female masturbation research and technique.

Secondly, we were alarmed to see that most sex advice is given by men, dating way back to The Joy of Sex through to the Bad Girls Bible and Masterful Lover. This results in men missing out on sex advice from women. In many cases the manner in which such advice is given is also worryingly based on very old-fashioned ideas about men and women and attempts to manipulate people on the basis of sexual insecurity.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-kinky-time [credit: Kamorii]
Get kinky with Kamorii (with their help at least). [credit: Kamorii]
The Kamorii website is clean, crisp, beautifully illustrated, and all in all, visually appealing on many levels. When you were thinking of how the site should look, the mood it should convey, which other erotic or adult brands did you want Kamorii to be at least equal to, if not better than, in aesthetic terms?
We actually took our design lead from graphic novels. I have always been a huge fan of this genre and Fiona Staples of the Saga series is one of my all-time favourite artists. Kamorii is a little nod to her work and it is why we hired concept illustrators who do a similar artistic style. We hope that this has given the site a unique look and that it stands out from the crowd. As regards other sites, we wanted it to stand up in quality against sites such as OMGYes, Lelo, Bordelle and Agent Provocateur.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sex-guide [credit: Kamorii]
Be your own sex goddess…with help from Kamorii. [credit: Kamorii]
Theoretically, your target customer could be any adult. That’s a wide demographic. But there’s always the risk that in trying to appeal to everyone, you actually end up appealing to less than you should. So how do you think your customers are instead defined from a psycho-graphic perspective? What common attitudes and/or attributes do you envisage your customers possessing?
We believe our customers are keen self developers who are always seeking to improve their lives and wellbeing. They are also people who want to give their partner(s) maximum pleasure so we think our customers are simply amazing. Of course, we are aware that there will be those who just click kamorii.com out of intrigue as to what we do, but we hope we convince them that sexual knowledge is worth exploring and that sexual technique deserves some time and thought.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Exciting, modern and adventurous

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-out-and-about-orgasm [credit: Kamorii]
“There’s nothing quite like a quickie orgasm at work or when out and about,” opines Kamorii. And the rest of us for that matter? [credit: Kamorii]
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Ah that is a tough one but it must be “pleasure”.

If you could get another erotic or adult brand to join forces with you for an event or other product proposition, what would it be and why?
The team at Kamorii is a huge fan of well-thought-out sex toy products and those companies that continually try to improve them. We are therefore big fans of Lelo and WeVibe and we provide guidance on our website on how to use some of their products. We wish to expand this knowledge and would love to join forces to create more “how to” guides.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
We have found marketing in this industry to be hugely challenging. Google PageRank, social media signals and backlinks are key to any new business’s online marketing strategy, but each delivers huge challenges for the adult industry. Social Media has delivered us a series of highs and lows. YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter are adult friendly and we are having success with these. The first 2 are of course critical for search visibility as they are Google products.  Facebook and Instagram are not so adult friendly and carefully tailored content is key to being allowed to advertise. Facebook Ads are an absolute no for many adult products, which is a shame as Facebook has by far the highest user numbers.

We are about to launch our media campaign and hope that this delivers some good results. We learned very quickly that getting the press, bloggers and vloggers to talk about a brand is key to good backlinks, which in turn will fly your brand up the Google search results. This was the route to OMGYes.com’s success which has minimal social media activity and has done little paid advertising. As regards paid advertising, we only use AdWords at the moment and this has been a huge success, albeit time-consuming to set up and optimise.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
As we are a tech/online business our biggest challenge has been Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Everyone knows that the online market dwarfs all others and wanting a piece of this vast market catapults you into a battle with Google. Basically you want people who are looking for a product like yours to find it, it’s a simple concept, but astronomically difficult to achieve. You can pay someone to do it, but finding a good SEO expert is difficult and expensive, we therefore decided to do a DIY approach so that we know how to continually improve SEO in-house. There are some great gurus out there to help such as Neil Patel, Brian Dean from Backlinko.com and Chase Reiner on YouTube. We follow them religiously and implement their advice. We are now seeing great results from our SEO strategy such as an 8-point increase in our domain authority and a huge jump in kamorii.com’s global and US ranking.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I was lucky to train in Prince2 Project Management in my last job so I have been able to implement full project management with Kamorii. It is very easy to become overwhelmed as an entrepreneur as there is always an endless list of things to do. I mapped out the main workflows last year and add new requirements as they arise. I then transfer the items to a handy monthly planner which I follow to the letter.

You’ve had a legal background in the City of London. To what extent (if any) has this been to your advantage in your new entrepreneurial role with Kamorii? What transferable skills are serving you well so far, and likely to in the future?
I have found great use for both my previous legal and business skills in my entrepreneurial journey. I think having worked as a commercial in-house solicitor has given me a great advantage as far as the business set up and management of Kamorii is concerned. There are simply so many matters I would not have been aware of if I hadn’t worked for a big company before. The main key transferable skills have been project planning, company management, business planning, start-up planning, team management, accounting, contract drafting and intellectual property protection. An added bonus is that I have not had to pay others to do this work for us. Time-wise this has also meant I have not had to spend time learning these things so I have been able to spend more time on the fun and exciting aspects of Kamorii.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-cliffhanger [credit: Kamorii]
Taking no chances: the universal language of love is nonetheless being further translated in 2018 by Kamorii! [credit: Kamorii]
And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Kamorii?
The key workflows for next 12 months are media marketing, mobile application development and translations.  We have mocked up a series of mobile applications and we are currently building our first, which will be launched in early 2018. These apps aim to carve up the distinct areas of sex guidance to make them more accessible and easy to learn.

In addition, Kamorii has been translated into 4 languages so we are currently building our language sites for Spanish (Latin & Provincial), Italian and Portuguese speakers. These will be standalone sites on their own domains so that we can tailor these to their specific markets. We will then begin our next set of translations and site builds for French, German, Russian and Mandarin speakers.

So watch this space for more Kamorii products and news!


Thanks Julia, for a very detailed appreciation of the work that has gone into – and continues to do so – bringing Kamorii to fruition. And some great online marketing advice as well for all #sexySMEs out there with an online presence.

Want to enrol at online sex-ed class? Head to Kamorii at the double! and if you’re really keen, Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Steff McGrath, Something Wicked

British lingerie brand Something Wicked offer customers evocative and provocative product ranges, while proudly flaunting their ‘made in Britain’ credentials.

Managing Partner Steff McGrath talks about the brand, masks, connecting with customers, events and distribution channels in this brief but all-encompassing chat.

 

Steff-McGrath-Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
Steff McGrath, Managing Partner, Something Wicked [credit: Something Wicked]
BRIAN GRAY:  Something Wicked is a relatively new brand, starting in 2013. What led up to your appointment as Managing Partner and what were your immediate marketing challenges to be addressed when sitting down at your new desk?

STEFF McGRATH: I came on board at the end of last year to head up the brand. I had always loved the product and the brand, and the opportunity arose to get involved. It has had a complete change in management structure, new investment and a new website. My first priority when I came onboard was to ensure everything was spot on in terms of production. All our products are handmade from start to finish in-house, and the fact that we are a British made brand is something that is really important to me. It was important to make sure we were ready for trade and able to upscale when necessary.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-portrait
[credit: Something Wicked]
As you’ll well know, there’s no shortage of lingerie brands for consumers to choose from. Why should people buy something wicked from…er…Something Wicked ?
At Something Wicked, we believe in exploring the real you. The passionate, seductive, devilish you. The you that not everyone gets to see. We bring together the finest quality materials with sumptuous design to create the most exquisite and exclusive lingerie, so you can continue to explore your true nature.

We realise that in life we wear different masks. One for the boardroom, one for drinks with friends… We conform to standards set by others and hide our true nature. But no one wants to conform all the time.

We allow people to be their true selves. To be Something Wicked.

What characteristics do Something Wicked customers share?
What buyer personas have you created?
We have identified customers that are often successful and confident, they lead fast-paced, ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyles. They can come from many walks of life but something that unites them is the need for release, release from their fast-paced lives, release from the everyday, release from what’s expected of them. There is a side to all of our customers that not everyone gets to see. When they can lay themselves bare and be themselves, their true selves… and it’s for those moments and experiences that Something Wicked exists.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Powerful. Seductive. Confident.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Explore

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
[credit: Something Wicked]
The old adage still holds true that ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Talk us through your marketing planning process. Also, how long does it normally take? How far ahead do your marketing plans cover?
Our process begins by taking a look at the wider market and other brands out there to ensure we can say something that is both differentiated and unique from the competition.

We also looked at our own brand to understand what we can say and how we can talk and act.

Once we have a really good idea of both of these areas, we need to look at the most important part which is making our brand relevant to the customers. We delve into their lives to discover what they really want to see and hear from a brand. This is where we connect on a more meaningful level with people rather than just on our products.

Typically our communication plan has a 12 month view relating to activity and budget focus, with detailed plans on a monthly basis.

A few months ago you attended the Dessous London lingerie trade event. What were your impressions of it and how beneficial was it to your company?
It was a great event, not only a good venue and location, but a good mix of people through the door. It came at the perfect time for us, as we were ready to reintroduce the brand to trade. We met a great combination of buyers, bloggers, and other brands, and have secured several trade orders from being at the show.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-piano
[credit: Something Wicked]
What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
It was really exciting to develop the shoppable videos that we have on our website. Not only was the shoot itself an unforgettable experience (there was cake everywhere!), but to be able to produce the videos with their unique technology behind them was amazing! They bring our collections to life  perfectly and allow our customers to interact with the brand. They simply choose what they want to be – whether that’s powerful or playful, dominant or revealing, and a shoppable video to match their mindset or mood will play for them.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
The distribution channels used are important; we are more than just a B2C brand and must also consider B2B.

It’s about more than just creating beautiful products, we must connect with customers on a deeper level and identify with them as a brand.

A lot of brands talk about what people want to be or what people should be and we didn’t want to be one of them. We want people to be their true selves.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sofa
[credit: Something Wicked]
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
When we began to look at the brand, we found that we had one of the best stories of quality, luxury and craftsmanship out there however when we looked at the wider market, we realised that the story of luxury and quality was already being told by many of other brands. We therefore knew that we had to connect with our customers on a deeper level.

By really getting under the skin of our customers we were able to develop a deep and vast understanding of them and the way they live their lives. We discovered that these highly driven, ambitious people needed a time to explore their inner nature instead of trying to be something they are not naturally… and we can facilitate that with beautifully made lingerie with a dark twist.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Something Wicked?
More international trade shows, gaining a presence in new territories, and a new collection in the pipeline!


Thanks Steff, and the very best of British (seems rather apt saying that) to you in your endeavours!

Want to wear Something Wicked, or at least see it first? Head to the Something Wicked website, and follow them on Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Peter Cooke, Fetters

Warwick doesn’t only have a famous castle worth visiting. Renowned BDSM and bondage retailer Fetters entices customers from far and wide to see for themselves the wares on offer.

Taking time to speak to Lascivious Marketing is their Marketing Director, Peter Cooke. Here he highlights marketing segmentation and targeting among their diverse customer base, and more.

 

Peter-Cooke-Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
Peter Cooke, Marketing Director, Fetters [credit: Fetters]
BRIAN GRAY:  So let’s get started. Who are Fetters and what are your #sexySME credentials?

PETER COOKE: Fetters is a manufacturer and retailer of BDSM furniture, restraints and fetish accessories. We make many items below our showroom in Warwick but we also retail popular kink brands through our showroom and online.

The business was started in 1976 and in 2015 fetish brand REGULATION purchased the business to bring more bondage focused products into the family. Fetters has changed a lot since the 70s. It’s gradually moved from selling mostly gay S&M products to a more pansexual customer base.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-colour-restraint-pile-crop
[credit: Fetters]
Looking at your website, you offer a wide range of different products in key groups. Which are the most popular items? Have there been any changes in purchasing patterns or new trends that you’re witnessing?

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-backrestraint
[credit: Fetters]
Our most popular products tend to be the smaller bondage accessories, so leather collars, cuffs and mitts. They really are great essentials that everyone starts with. Over the last two years we’ve introduced more dildos, usually at the more premium end such as Square Peg Toys from the USA. These have been extremely popular which was a little unexpected.

Overall, we’re seeing greater interest in products that can help make a great BDSM session; canes, gags, toys etc. People are increasingly ordering products for their weekend plans and we’re realising it’s important to make more of these available to ship quickly and easily.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-cage
[credit: Fetters]
You’ve got a showroom in Warwick. How would you describe the people who walk in the door? Also, are they curious browsers or do they tend to be quite specific about what they’re coming in for?
We have quite a broad range of customers. Many couples come in together, especially younger couples. Some have experience on the “scene” but many are just curious individuals who are looking for tools to act out a fantasy or indulge in a desire they’ve discovered online. Our showroom is one of the best places to see and sample our furniture so some do travel from greater distances, even outside Europe, to visit us.

What defines your typical Fetters customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I couldn’t even start to define a typical Fetters customer. Some are discreet, others loud and proud. Some comfortable curious while others are highly experienced and heavily involved in the BDSM community. There’s everything in between. Whatever their story, I’d like our customers to see us as Deviant, Exciting and Genuine.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Thrilling.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-bondage-tape
[credit: Fetters]
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
We’re still very much on a journey with our marketing approach but we’ve definitely learnt not to overreach with our target market. Many of our products can appeal to both gay and straight customers but these scenes rarely mix and images or copy written for one group won’t be well received by both.

We decided to continue with a more pansexual approach but we’ve learnt to also be aware of what is resonating with customers who have a personal identity preference such as submissive females or switch couples etc. It’s quite a tall order but we’re trying hard to create a brand that speaks broadly to many BDSM individuals.

It’s not hard to imagine – at least in the past – that some locals (such as the NIMBY – “Not in my back yard” – brigade) might be concerned or even outraged about your showroom and types of wares being sold. To what extent – if any – does this affect day-to-day operations?
We try and keep a relatively low profile with our showroom, especially with the exterior. Our interior is designed to be warm and welcoming even though some of our pieces might seem less friendly. Customers appreciate this and our neighbours are either content or less aware. We’re also careful to ensure we don’t seem too seedy or sleazy. We’ll leave that to our customers once they’re home!

Ultimately though, we do have a certain level of pride in hoping our business can enrich the sex lives of people in a positive way. We would do our best to defend that freedom but thankfully we’ve not encountered many issues along the way.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sleepsack
[credit: Fetters]
As well as actual and prospective customers, bricks and mortar adult retailers have to engage with other audiences such as the local council, licensing authorities, media and so on. What has been your experience of this, and what do you see as being the key to maintaining good relations with such groups?
Openness and transparency are important. We don’t want to seem underground and obscure. On the other hand, we have to consider customer privacy very carefully. We regularly get press requests for interviews, tours or journalists asking to be connected with customers for editorials. There are benefits to bringing kink, fetishes and adult products out into the mainstream, but my experience is that the reception of this kind of coverage is often not positive, especially online. We choose very carefully and always favour adult or fetish media if we can.

Honestly speaking, we’re not selling our products to the mainstream. There are other, very good retailers for this. We’re serving a sizable niche market. We keep this in mind when contacted by more mainstream media.

What has been your most enjoyable moment or experience with Fetters that has made the blood, sweat and tears all worthwhile?
There’s not a specific moment but when I look at how far our showroom and website have come over the past two years I’m happy what we’re moving in the right direction.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given, and from who?
It’s not a piece of advice but I have a favourite quote, “If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.”
[it’s a favourite of mine too! You only need one to work.  Brian]

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I work with some great people so I’ve been fortunate that we’re able to share our workload on a lot of projects. It’s also easy to get carried away with the day-to-day but I try to just stop and reflect at the beginning of a week. This helps me plan and be more efficient with time.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Fetters?
We’ve got a couple of exciting photoshoots planned and hopefully the introduction of some video content to really increase customer knowledge of our more unusual products. We’re also holding a number of showroom shopping events which have become popular and provide the perfect excuse for those outside of the Midlands to visit.


Thanks Pete! And it’s refreshing to see an adult retailer that can testify that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and markets their products and services accordingly. Different buyer personas are vital, thus requiring targeted marketing communications for each identified segment. This genuine customer-led marketing approach is to be commended and should be adopted across the industry by all manufacturers and retailers.

If you want to take a closer look at the many wares on offer, then head to the Fetters website. You can also follow Fetters on Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Isabella, Xenses

Tulips aren’t the only lovely things coming from the Netherlands. From lingerie to sex toys and erotic art, adult retailer Xenses nearly has it all.

At the Xenses helm is (Flying?) Dutchwoman Isabella, who talks about her mission, customer base, marketing lessons, and a lot more.

Mise en Cage - Weston Lace Up Brief - Photo Pierre Dal Corso
Mise en Cage – Weston Lace Up Brief [credit: Pierre Dal Corso]
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning, Miss Xenses. ‘Name, rank, and serial number’ as the military used to say! Who are you and what’s been your adult retailing journey so far?

ISABELLA: Miss Xenses a.k.a Isabella is a bit of a mystery and I like that not many people know who I am.  Isn’t it the not knowing that keeps it sexy? But I can confirm that I am a woman, that should do it for now 😉 Xenses is my first experience with adult retailing and that period covers about 7 years. I’ve started with no knowledge of the erotic luxury market and thought that a LELO sex toy was the most luxurious product out there. How little did I know! Xenses has grown from a main-stream adult web shop to a luxury online boutique together with my knowledge of this business.

Ludique - Diamond Lingerie - Photo Florin Opris
Ludique – Diamond Lingerie [credit: Florin Opris]
What made you decide on the name Xenses for your business?
It was actually quite the process to find a name, I had a page filled with dozens of names in front of me, the end result of weeks, even months thinking of names. In the end I’ve chosen Xenses, a mixture of Senses and seX.

Mission statements – especially from corporate behemoths – can often be vague, boring and the reader ends up none the wiser afterwards. But I’ve got faith with you, Isabella! How would you sum up the mission of Xenses?
It’s really simple: I want to bring love and happiness to lovers all over the world with unique, hand crafted products that will inspire love and satisfy desires. And in doing so curate an amazing collection of high quality and luxurious products that will WOW my clients.

Absidem - Janice Studded Handcuffs
Absidem – Janice Studded Handcuffs

Your website offers a wide range of adult retail products, from lingerie to sex toys to erotic art. Needless to say, there’s a lot of different designers and manufacturers to deal with! Tell us more about this. Who approaches who? What criteria are in place?
Well, it happens both ways, I contact designers and they approach me as well. As it is my aim to bring mostly unique brands and products together, I search the internet for new and exciting brands that could be an addition to Xenses. I prefer hand crafted products that are unique, innovative, luxurious and of high quality. But as with everything, there needs to be a balance, I need well-known brands as well to attract clients.

Something Wicked - Ava Lingerie Collection
Something Wicked – Ava Lingerie Collection

You’re based in the Netherlands but thanks to the joys of the internet your customers can be from almost anywhere. What countries are your most lucrative so far? How much of your sales comes from domestic customers?
Believe it or not, but the Dutch in general are not that progressive when it comes to erotic shopping, they also do not like to spend money on luxury. After my first year only selling in the Netherlands, I’ve opened the international online boutique Xenses-shop.com and that has been a success from the start. We sell and ship all over the world from New Zealand to Japan with the US, UK, France and Germany as home for most of my clients. I would say that 60-65% of my business comes from abroad and these order amounts are also the highest.

Who is the typical Xenses customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand? Most of my clients are male, shopping for their special lady. And I hope they would say: sexy, luxurious and high quality.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Personal Service. Okay that is two words, but it is something that I value and put a lot of effort in. Online shopping is per definition not personal, but I make it personal as much as I can without losing the discretion or anonymity most of my clients seek.

What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
I have never been an entrepreneur before Xenses, so I am thrilled to learn about this new talent of mine. The most satisfying part of my business experience however is that I receive a lot of personal feed-back from couples that have loved the shopping experience with Xenses and adore their purchase. I do get official reviews that are visible online, however most clients prefer contacting me directly.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
As a small business I do most things myself including marketing. I do work with others at times, but it has been my experience that this business is so elusive, a lot of marketing principles just do not apply. And I have spent a lot of my business capital on expert third parties finding this out. Also the fact that it is an adult business means that restrictions are in place, you cannot do what other regular companies can.

And lastly, my wide range of products can be a challenge, for example lingerie lovers do not necessarily have an interest in sex toys or bondage accessories. The challenge lies in finding a balance on social media and the right mix of products that will attract the right clients for Xenses.

Absainte - Jacinthe Body Jewelry
Absainte – Jacinthe Body Jewelry

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Running an adult company in the Netherlands means encountering many prejudices and obstacles on social media, Google and when contacting magazines and people in general. Erotic luxury is really not a well-known concept here, I have been challenging this notion from the start with high quality luxury products.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
Online visibility is everything, make sure you are found through Adwords, improve your SEO, use social media, keep innovating and find and promote your own unique concept. And stay true to yourself!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Xenses? The coming months are the busiest months for Xenses, there is not much time to do anything else. In spring I will have time to take a step back and take the pulse of the business and adapt my business to stay on top. What I can say is that we have brought a new brand on board for SS18 that will blow everyone’s mind 😉


Thanks Isabella! And here’s hoping Xenses continues to tempt new and existing customers alike in the Netherlands and further afield.

Yield to temptation at the Xenses website. And don’t forget to follow Xenses on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Rebecca Allsop, Yummy Gummy Latex

Meet the sweet sounding and equally delicious looking latex brand that’s the anithesis of its fetish-esque peers. Introducing, Yummy Gummy Latex.

Yummy Gummy Latex co-founder and designer Rebecca Allsop talks branding, marketing, and the ‘joys’ of social media.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
Rebecca Allsop, Yummy Gummy Latex [credit: Rachel May]
BRIAN GRAY: Who is Yummy Gummy Latex and what’s the story behind it?

REBECCA ALLSOP: Yummy Gummy is myself (Rebecca) and my boyfriend (Sam). I started making sheet latex back in 2013 when I was taught how to make it by a late photographer who had previously been in the business of making sheet latex. I hadn’t discovered latex before then and wasn’t particularly impressed by it.

But after doing a bit of research I realised no one did what I could now do, which was make patterned multi coloured latex. Fast forward to me taking the little bits that I had made to the BBB (Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar) and having the latex designers there jump for joy that someone finally brought them what they had been waiting for. We saw how big the gap in the market was and after being made redundant and with some encouragement from Sam, I went for Yummy Gummy full time and haven’t looked back.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
Yummy Gummy Latex is certainly a distinctive name. How and why did you settle on this particular moniker?
I literally chucked a pile of the little sheets I first made in to the middle of my room and stared at them until I found a name that described them perfectly. They looked just like gummy sweeties in their colour and texture. For me having a name that made people understand what the company was about immediately was really important, to save having to explain or for people to have to research more. It’s fun and memorable, I’ve had many people stand in front of my banners reading the name and chuckling to themselves saying how perfect it is and how nice it is that it’s breaking the dark fetish nature that latex brands usually take.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Yummy Gummy Latex?
I always say I want to take over the world with latex.  I want to spread multi coloured latex to the masses and break down that heavy fetish stereotype that the non-latex wearer thinks it’s like. It’s not all “weirdos and gimps”, it’s fun and expressive.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Innovative, Exciting and Approachable.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Innovative or Pioneering.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas, headdress by Hippy Poppins]
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
Facebook is crap, Instagram is for the win, and I still don’t know how to work Twitter. At the end of the day I use If This Then That, as a tool to manage all my social medias at once to save myself time. I like posting little clips of me manipulating a sheet of latex as a photo rarely gets across the colours and textures and sparkles right where as a video gives customers a really good idea of what they’re getting.

You’re fairly active on social media, especially Instagram. What have been your key observations on social media as a marketing tool for Yummy Gummy? And how much of your social media activity is planned versus spontaneous?
Its pretty much all spontaneous, I really hate having to post regularly on social media, I much prefer to be making. I have to force myself to try and find something to post every day so I stay relevant and remind people whats new and what they could be buying.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
You also actively sell your wares at various markets around the country. What are your opinions on these and how do your sales at these compare to those ordered online?
I do most of my clothing sales at markets as people can try on and impulse buy, or buy in confidence that something fits how they would like it. I’m very good at convincing people just to try something on for fun and before they know it they’re handing over their credit card because they’ve found their clothing soulmate. I sell pretty much all my sheet latex online however as most people are happy not seeing the latex in person before buying and all the sheet latex is made to order.

If you could get another adult brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign or event with yourself, who would it be and why?
I have collaborated with Godemiche Silicone who do the same thing as I do with latex but with dildos. They make multi coloured dildos! I gave them some of my glitter that matches a best selling dress and we created the Gleam dildo. We probably could have made more of a deal of it than we did but both being in similar situations we were both distracted by trying to make our own orders and run our separate companies than to make the most out of the collab with give aways on social media etc.

What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
Meeting customers and attending the first Sexhibition show in 2015 where I got to dress my idolised fetish models in my latex and have them walk the catwalk. Or when I won my two awards, one for Best Newcomer for the European Fetish awards, or the Sexhibition Best Latex Designer of the Year award. Having peer recognition and support from the community was just amazing to see where I had come with the brand, something I had originally just seen as a little hobby / Etsy business than my full time employment of 4 years.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from whom?
I am advised a lot by another latex brand. As for any particular advice I can’t think of any.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas, headdress by Hippy Poppins]
And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Yummy Gummy Latex?
I’ve just made a catusit and a bra, which doesn’t sound much, but it’s something I’ve been asked for for years and years but put off doing because they have to fit perfectly and be practically bespoke in every aspect. I am hoping to shoot my collection on some well known Instagram models, collaborate with a plus-size blogger for a joint collection for the much larger lady and I hope to approach fashion boutiques and try and get some stockists in traditional clothing shops.

Thanks Rebecca! And here’s hoping Yummy Gummy Latex hangs onto its its sweet spot in the latex world. 

Tempted by Rebecca’s latex lovelies? Head over to the Yummy Gummy Latex website and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Stacey Mavrou, Eustratia

Meet the Manchester company guiding you the right way into the latex fashion world: Eustratia.

Eustratia Founder and Designer Stacey Mavrou talks branding, marketing, and how she and her company runs.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-nymeria-bodysuit
Stacey Mavrou, Eustratia, wearing Nymeria Bodysuit. Cat not included!
[credit: Richard Ayres]
BRIAN GRAY: Let’s start from the beginning, Stacey. Give us a brief history of Eustratia, your background, and motivation for going into business.

STACEY MAVROU: I first encountered latex clothes in Camden in 2004. I was initially intrigued by the seams without stitching and the fascination grew from there. I have always seen fashion as a powerful mode of self-expression and I wanted to offer people an aesthetic I didn’t see anywhere else. I guess I identified that need through an inability to find the perfect outfit for myself, I wanted something that defined me completely and I wanted to give others to be able to experience that too.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
[credit: Richard Ayres]
Why did you settle on Eustratia as the name? What does it signify?
The name is a translation of the first part of my (Greek) name (pronounced in Greek, Efstratia), meaning the “good” or “right” way in regards to the path that you take. I inherited the name from my grandmother who was a seamstress and the first person to introduce me to the world of fashion.

As an existing name, there are others who use it on social media, so I like to make the brand easier to identify by adding  _fashion.

And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Eustratia?
The core principle behind the brand is the balance between opposites. I enjoy contrasting elements and love to explore the dynamics between them. After years of experimentation, I think I have reached a point where the balance is right and the result harmonious.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-deluxe-bra
[credit: Richard Ayres]
This has led to a slight shift in direction for the brand in the last year. Instead of creating a new and elaborate collection each season, I now offer a carefully curated range of customisable basics, featuring my signature latex-lace, alongside unique, seasonal motifs and items. I still want to enable customers to create an outfit that defines them, but I have used my years in the industry to streamline the process and offer options that resonate with my customers.

What defines your typical Eustratia Fashion customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I’m not sure if you could call Eustratia customers “typical” but I would probably define the main customer type as a party girl or performer. I make things for men on occasion, but the majority of my customers are female. They want something to wear to a club or event that defines them as a person but also works in a busy environment; something striking yet comfortable, sexy but not vulgar, fashionable and simultaneously unique.

Any of the above adjectives would do: I would be more interested to hear what they would use without my prompting!

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-corset-closeup
[credit: Richard Ayres]
The UK is home to more than a few highly renowned latex fetish / lingerie designers. What do you think differentiates yourself from them?
I do believe we have the latex designers with the best taste here in the UK and there is certainly something for everyone. In the past, I would have said that it was my unique combination of materials and techniques that set me apart, (since I started creating my first official collection in 2010, I have used combinations of latex with lace, guipure, mesh and other fabrics, chain mail, studs, crystals, perspex and taxidermy) but as these are no longer unique to my brand, I would now say that what differentiates me, is the balance between the contrasting elements in my work and ability to look inwards when I create, instead of concerning myself with what other people are creating or comparing myself to them.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
“Harmony”

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
Be consistent, overreaching to do something big is pointless if you can’t keep it up.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-black-shoulder-pads
[credit: Richard Ayres]
If you could get another adult brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign or event with yourself, who would it be and why?
I really don’t think I would collaborate with an adult brand as I don’t really consider myself one, I like to walk that fine line between fetish and fashion. I am honoured if people find pleasure in my clothes and I don’t think there should be stigma attached to that but I wouldn’t want to force a certain image onto anyone who sees them differently.

You studied Fashion Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Hindsight is always a great thing, but to what extent has it prepared you as a commercial designer, but also as a marketer and businesswoman?
I think doing such a broad course was useful and gave a more spherical view of the industry on the whole and the different positions one could go into. However, as someone whose mind was already made up, I’m not sure I acquired any knowledge could easily be impelled while running my own business. For example, I wouldn’t say I knew much at all about marketing as a graduate, despite doing well on that particular module.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from whom?
Be consistent. I’m sure I’ve read that everywhere but it really is integral. People have short memories and you have to constantly remind them of your existence.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-black-bodysuit
[credit: Richard Ayres]
Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
Time management has been an issue for me in the past , as a young designer, full of enthusiasm to create and be involved in new projects, it’s easy to take on too much and in turn, to neglect the more boring but essential business admin. I’ve found that routine works best for me, I have specific tasks assigned to each day of the week and a certain amount of hours assigned to making each day, to stop it taking over my life!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Eustratia?
At the moment, I’m just focusing on fine-tuning the business side of things. I’m having a break from fashion shows and stalls and even large-scale photoshoots, which were previously a priority of mine. Although I love defining and sharing my vision and the stories that inspire my work, I felt the need to focus more on the actual ordering process of the garments and make it easier for people to just order a piece they are 100% sure about without having to make contact first. I answer all my messages myself and I’m always happy to make suggestions and alternations to suit each individual, but I’m aware that not everyone likes to shop that way.

Thanks Stacey! Here’s hoping you’re similarly guided to bigger and even better fortunes on your journey.

Tempted by Stacey’s wares?  You wouldn’t be the first one! Head over to the Eustratia website and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Victoria Jane, Crowned Jewels

Meet the Norfolk sex toy company working hard for your pleasure, and your royal approval: Crowned Jewels.

Co-Founder Victoria Jane talks marketing, quality, and saucy London inspiration!


BRIAN GRAY: Who’s behind Crowned Jewels, and what’s the brief history behind it all?

VICTORIA JANE: Crowned Jewels is owned and run by James and Victoria. Founded in 2008, Crowned Jewels started out making sex toys in Sterling Silver and has since evolved and added to its catalogue with new products and accessories, all handcrafted in Titanium and Aluminium and Precious metals.

Crowned-Jewels-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-workshop-hands
Hard at work for your pleasure, in Norfolk. [credit: Crowned Jewels]
We are passionate about designing and making, beautiful, body-safe sex toys and accessories. To explore and enjoy your own and your partner’s body, to enhance its potential and improve your sex life, with style and confidence. It has been our ethos from day one to make exciting adult toys that are crafted from only completely body safe and high-grade materials. They are hand-made in our workshops, based in a 300 year-old barn, on a sprawling country estate, in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk countryside. Our high standards ensure quality and purity throughout, resulting in our stunning range of products available, for you to purchase and enjoy.

There’s a plethora of sex toy manufacturers and sellers competing for market share. Why should people buy from Crowned Jewels?
Crowned Jewels are the only metal sex toy company, that we are aware of, that have their finished products and materials independently verified to ensure compliance with current safety legislation.  When customers buy from us, they are assured to receive quality, safe, products. That’s why we don’t need a 365 day returns policy.

We are the only manufacturer to manufacture 100% of our products solely in the UK and it is for this reason that we can keep close control of our high quality production processes.

Crowned-Jewels-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-
“Getting off at Earl’s Court, Sir?” [credit: Crowned Jewels]
Many of your products are named after London locales. Please tell us there’s a saucy story behind each one! Or if not, at least tell us the rationale behind it all.
The rationale behind our product names stems from the Crowned Jewels being associated with London. We then chose the London based names because the choice available was too good to miss. The cheeky relevance to what the products are and where/what they are used for was irresistible – just pure, saucy innuendo! Names like ‘Highbury’ and ‘Upminster’ for butt plugs and ‘Marylebone’ and ‘Shaftsbury’ for dildos , is almost descriptive. ‘Court’ is a circle, so Hampton, Earl’s and Baron’s Court as names for the cock rings was also a natural choice. Needless to say, we have a lot of fun naming our products. Watch out for our new strap-on dildo, which will be available very soon, called ‘Cockfosters’.

Talking of London, as well as directly selling from your website and through other stockists, you also exhibit at the London Alternative Market. Tell us more about your involvement in this, and how vital a component is it in your marketing activities?
We are new to the London Alternative Market and have found it to be a great relaxed, warm and welcoming marketplace to sell and promote our products and what we do. Customers get a chance to view and handle the products and ask any questions they have in a safe and likeminded environment. The sort of questions you may not feel comfortable asking friends or family but would help you enjoy a better sex life and make good, informed choices for products and lifestyle.

Who is the typical Crowned Jewels customer? And what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
A typical Crowned Jewels customer is a conscientious adult. If you’re conscious of what you put in your body then you wouldn’t choose anything other than a Crowned Jewels product for tickling your most intimate of desires.
Quality, Pleasure and Functionality

 A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
‘Perfection’ after all, this is our daily strive! Our independent reviews give credence to this being our consistent achievement.

What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
Wow, so many highlights and experiences, it’s hard to choose! We’ve been lucky enough to meet so many fabulous people, made products that have literally changed people’s lives and have saved relationships. It’s been an honour to meet and work with such a diverse range of customers.

Crowned-Jewels-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Upminster-plug-pink-sapphire
Ornate. And orgasmic? Find out for yourself! [credit: Crowned Jewels]
We’ve made diamond set vibrators for celebrities and a solid silver Upminster Butt Plug set with a 30ct Pink Sapphire (Retail value in excess $100,000). We’ve met wonderful people from every walk of life, gender and sexual preference and we’ve sold products to customers all around the world.

I guess this can all be summed up as ‘Knowledge’. Knowledge we have acquired understanding consumer trends and the hunger of consumers for knowledge to develop their own sexual prowess.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
It’s very hard to market sex toys. Sex sells everything but when you try to use sex to sell sex, it can be considered sleazy.

Crowned-Jewels-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-rainbow-shaftsbury
“Shaftsbury Avenue ?” [credit: Crowned Jewels]
Choosing fun and interesting names for the products has been something our customers love and being a British company, our foreign customers like the direct connection. Our key marketing points are:

  • The safety of our products
  • The beautiful anodised colours of the Titanium – and we are the only company to produce a range of Medical Grade Titanium Sex Toys,
  • Handmade in Great Britain
  • The fact that they’re ‘eco-friendly’ i.e. we ‘grow’ them on a farm, in Norfolk, using wind and solar power (we consider this ‘Normal for Norfolk’!)
  • Being made of metal our products are recyclable, unlike the mass market of silicone products.
  • Even our packaging is luxurious, yet 95% recyclable, with not a blister pack in sight.
  • We use traditional wax and a seal to finish all our product packaging, another personal touch that our customers love.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Getting ‘out there’ and getting our products and strong company ethos known has not been easy. We use social media to get our message across but because of the type of industry we are in, we are not allowed to advertise on Facebook or Twitter, unlike other business sectors. Some companies now advertise on television, but it is very expensive and for a small company like us, that is not feasible.

We continue to grow our company organically, along with our creation of branded products such as jewellery, to create greater brand awareness in the public eye.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
We’ve learned that like most small businesses, it is certainly not a level playing field. Resistance in the industry to newcomers, especially with quality products, is particularly strong and I know several companies that have given up as it’s too hard to compete in a world of cheap, low quality products, mass produced in foreign countries, with no regulations, let alone standards.

Crowned-Jewels-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Upminster-Bronze
Definitely something to be proud of. [credit: Crowned Jewels]
Through British excellence in engineering, we, against all odds, have managed to create products that compete commercially on price with Chinese manufactured products, yet put the quality of imported goods, (be they from China or Pakistan, the two major manufacturers of adult goods), to shame!

We are proud of our products, how beautiful they are and the pleasure they can bring. We celebrate the fact that they are different and the feedback from our customers reinforces how great they are to use. Happy customers equals happy company!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Crowned Jewels?
We are busy in the workshop making and testing new products and will have some fabulous new releases to tempt and excite you later this year. We are working with Ann Summers, which is very exciting, and have current products online and in select stores with them, including Norwich, our local store and their Red Room in the Marble Arch store.

With tightening regulation coming to the market place we are intent upon becoming the dominant source for safe, high quality, desirable yet affordable products to the sexually liberated people of the world.

 

Thanks, Victoria! While awaiting the royal seal of approval from Buckingham Palace there’s no doubt you’ve already got it from your customer base!

If you never want to think of London locations – or tube stations – in the same light again (or at least want to do so with a huge grin on your face) head over to the Crowned Jewels website  and tweet to Crowned Jewels on Twitter for good measure.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Jessie Maeday, Elysian Latex

Take one recent De Montfort Contour Fashion graduate, a love of latex and a new brand born just a few months ago. And mix thoroughly. The result? Elysian Latex.

Founder / Designer Jessie Maeday talks candidly about her latex creations, marketing and her first entrepreneurial steps.

 

Elysian-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Jessie-Maeday
Jessie Maeday, Designer / Founder, Elysian Latex [credit: Elysian Latex]
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s get started. Has Elysian Latex been around while you were studying or is this a brand new enterprise launched recently?

JESSIE MAEDAY: Since I started my degree I knew that I wanted to end up being my own boss, and I have always had that in the back of my mind throughout the last three years. It hasn’t really been until the last six months or so that I started to build the brand into something that was ready to go once I graduated.

Elysian-Latex-logo-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
[credit: Elysian Latex]
What other possible names did you consider and why did you settle on Elysian Latex?
Oh so many! I’ve lost count of how many hours have been spent with friends and a glass of wine scrolling through the internet trying to come up with something. I started to play around with names on Instagram to test-drive them, seeing how the name worked with the content I was posting.

Elysian Latex came about once I started on my final collection, as I wanted something that reflected the brand aesthetic. The definition of Elysian is ‘characteristics of heaven or paradise’, and this feminine undertone is certainly reflected in the work I produce.

Elysian-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sketch
[credit: Elysian Latex]
And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Elysian Latex?
The brand vision is simple; Elysian Latex challenges what people think they know about latex as a fashion fabric. The idea that latex is a fetish only material has become a bit boring, and I want to fight that by bringing it into 2017. I see latex as any other luxury material, and by incorporating fabric manipulation as well as my exclusive lace laser cutting, I can create garments that are fashion forward, but also have that ever-so- flattering effect of latex when worn.

Elysian-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-model
[credit: Elysian Latex]
What defines your typical Elysian Latex customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I’d like to think that the average customer is… well anyone! I’ve been approached by customers who are literally the definition of English rose, pale skin, red hair with breath-taking beauty, all the way to heavily tattooed, fetish models and sex workers. If I were to break the brand down into three words, it would be: Flirty, Feminine, and Fearless. I want my customers to feel like they can take on the world, and look damn good while doing it!

Elysian-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-manequins
[credit: Elysian Latex]
The UK is home to more than a few highly renowned latex fetish / lingerie designers. What do you think differentiates yourself from them?
I think the fact that my garments come from a mostly fashion background helps to separate myself from the competition, as well as all the technical skills I have learnt studying Contour Fashion. I work super hard creating garments that are not just pretty but designed with proper knowledge of bra construction and how to get the perfect fit.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Quality.
I work so passionately on every glued seam, fabric piece cut and eyelet pressed so that every item is made with love and care.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
Oh gosh, I am truly terrible at marketing! I have a little piece of the internet via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter which I try to keep updated regularly with current work, events and inspiration and they are all growing at what I’d consider to be a respectable pace. Branching out to different parts of the work is difficult and most of my followers are UK based, which is good for now as the brand is still in its early stages. I also have an Etsy page where I sell my work, but this desperately needs to be moved onto my own website so I can really show off what Elysian Latex is all about!

If you could get another adult brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign or event with yourself, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely LOVE to work with fetish/ burlesque club night! Those events look like so much fun and having a catwalk show, as well as people just having a great evening in my garments is a personal dream.

Elysian-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-show
[credit: Elysian Latex]
The Contour Fashion degree at De Montfort University is long established and renowned within the lingerie and fashion industries alike. How well do you think it’s prepared you for the next stage in your career, both as a designer and as a businesswoman?
The course has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined. Studying Contour was the best, most stressful and most rewarding decision I ever made (even though it sometimes didn’t feel like it at 5am when I was frantically sewing/ drawing or crying into a bottle of wine before deadlines)

The tutors are so incredible at noticing what makes you an individual and how to bring that into your design work. Without really realising it I have grown into a designer, seamstress, pattern drafter and technical designer, and those skills are essential to having a successful fashion career. I do still have so much to learn when it comes to running my business but Contour was definitely successful in getting me on the right path.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from who?
It’s a bit ironic as the company has recently closed, but reading Girl Boss (the creator of vintage brand Nasty Gal) has taught me so many simple things that I never would have considered. One that has stuck with me is how to approach garments not selling. I am guilty of taking items not selling personally so I can either feel defeated or that the item is rubbish as no-body wants to buy it. Or I can treat selling this item as a work in progress and re-evaluate how I am advertising, photographing, describing it and try again.
And sort out your finances. Obviously.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I work pretty much full time as well as working on my own brand so my time is very scattered at the moment. I try to spend at least an hour a day networking and replying to emails, and I try to make items that aren’t being sold on my Etsy page that could be available to hire for models etc as a form of promotion.

The biggest tip I’ve got would be to definitely have a cut off point in the day where work stops so you don’t damage your life outside of work. There is nothing more irritating that being out at dinner and having the company you are with ‘just need to quickly reply to this email’.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Elysian Latex?
Exciting things hopefully! I am currently in talks/ setting up meetings with a few brands and entertainment events to collaborate with in the near future, which is both the most terrifying and exhilarating experience. Elysian Latex has only officially been around for less than two months now and it’s already been a pretty crazy ride, I’m so excited for the future and whatever opportunities it brings!

 

Thanks, Jessie! And the very best of luck in your entrepreneurial endeavours!

If you fancy getting in a latex lather over Jessie’s well designed delights head over to the Elysian Latex Etsy store  and tweet to Elysian Latex or see Elysian Latex on Instagram and nod most approvingly!

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

PS. And don’t forget to sign up to receive SIX OF THE BEST – our free weekly email containing key weblinks covering the sex toy and adult retailing world AND hot marketing tips for your business.

INTERVIEW: Liam McKenzie, Couples Playthings

Meet the sex toy retailer where the idea for its existence “just happened”: Couples Playthings from the USA. Co-Founder Liam McKenzie answers the questions.

Catering to a purely US clientele, Liam talks candidly about melted sex toys, patience, personal and corporate ethos, and sex toy marketing.

     

Couples-Playthings-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-website
Couples Playthings…pleased to meet you! [credit: Couples Playthings]
BRIAN GRAY: Do introduce yourselves, and tell us a little more about the history behind Couples Playthings.

LIAM McKENZIE: We are a happily married couple that are passionate about all things sex related. Better yet, we’re passionate about all things that lead to a healthy relationship.

Couples Playthings didn’t start out as a specific idea, it just sort of happened. One thing that lead to forming the business was finding some old sex toys from Robin’s days as an independent sex toy consultant all melted together. We did some research as to why they would melt. Our findings indicated that the toys were made from harmful, and unstable materials. After that, we started purchasing new body-safe toys and started having some fun with them together.

The second thing that led to our business was taking part in conversations about sex, and sex toys, with our friends. Many of our friends didn’t think too highly about using sex toys nor doing things that were considered “kinky.” After partaking in so many kinky activities ourselves, we honestly felt sorry for our friends as they were missing out on so much fun and enjoyment. From a personal standpoint, we found that sex toy play and sexual exploration resulted in a stronger and more meaningful relationship. And, our communication improved as well as our trust in each other.

One day we were out to dinner, just the two of us, reflecting on one of the many negative conversations we had with our friends. It was at that moment we decided to start a blog to educate couples about sexual exploration and sex toys. The idea morphed into Couples Playthings as we decided it would be fun to provide body-safe products in addition to educating the general public about sexual exploration.

What other possible names did you consider and why did you settle on Couples Playthings?
We actually didn’t consider any other names. We knew almost immediately that we wanted to tailor our services to couples. Additionally, we often refer to our own sex toy collection as our “playthings.” With that said, the proverbial “light bulb” went off in our heads and Couples Playthings sounded simple and appropriate. Before finalizing our name, we reached out to several of our friends and it was a unanimous “I love the name” response.

There’s no shortage of sex toy retailers competing for a slice of the market. Why should people buy from Couples Playthings and not the others?
First and foremost, we want to give “kudos” to our competitors. Now that we’ve been in business for nearly one year, we truly understand the hard work involved to become successful. “Great job” to all of you out there trying to make the world more sex positive!

We set ourselves apart from many competitors through quality content on our site. Many competitors that we’ve researched simply sell sex toys without including product reviews or providing other valuable information. We’ve spent hundreds of hours writing product reviews and informative articles. And, we do it from a personal standpoint sharing our own experiences and perspectives. We want customers and visitors to our site to understand we’re not just some corporate entity. Instead, we’re “real people” trying to make a difference by helping others.

We’ve also partnered up with Dr. Chelsea Holland with the sole purpose of giving visitors a way to connect with a certified/licensed sex therapist. Additionally, we’re not selling 50,000 products…we constantly focus on providing high quality body-safe products only.

Lastly, we work extremely hard and take pride in providing excellent customer service before, during, and after each sale. Our business is not just “a job”, it’s our passion.

Couples Playthings interview Lascivious Marketing sex toy shape made up of sex toys
Any shape for any occasion? [credit: Couples Playthings]
Your ethos is “Live together. Play together. Love together. Explore together.” How did you arrive at that?
We’ve both been in prior relationships and many of those relationships lacked a true connection. Our ethos are true “tenets” of our own relationship and have helped us in forming a very unique and strong bond to each other. We wanted to share our ethos with the world hoping that we’re able help other couples form a deeper connection. When we say “live together”, we’re not simply living under the same roof. We’re doing things together and forming new hobbies together…and without losing who we are as individuals.

“Play together”, at least for us, includes lots of laughing and playfulness which has helped reduce much stress in our lives. When it comes to “Love together”, it’s not just about awesome sex. It’s about putting each other’s needs before our own. In doing so, we’ve found our love for each other to be much stronger. “Explore together” is one of our favorite tenets. To us, it covers a lot of new ground. Whether it be traveling to new places, or sharing a fantasy or desire (and acting it out), we find fulfilment in exploring new possibilities together.

Couples-Playthings-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-bed
Plenty of Playthings…for Couples. [credit: Couples Playthings]
Who is the typical Couples Playthings customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
We get lots of emails on a daily basis from potential customers. A vast majority of the questions sound similar to this: “My partner and I are looking for a new sex toy, do you have any recommendations as well as tips on use?” Or, we see lots of comments like this: “Thanks for writing this article! My husband and I read it and it’s helped us out.” After receiving these types of questions and comments time after time, we believe our typical customers are curious, explorative, open, and intelligent.

The three adjectives we’d like our customers to associate with us are: luxurious, trustworthy, and provocative.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Erotic.
The design of our website was built around this exact word and we’d love it if this word jumped into the minds of our visitors.

Couples Playthings interview with Lascivious Marketing. Sex toys on bed arranged in heart shape
How much bedroom fun potential is this for you? One night, weekend or month?! [credit: Couples Playthings]
What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
The greatest highlight so far is meeting so many wonderful, and like-minded, people. Whether we’re speaking with customers, industry bloggers, or manufacturing reps…people have made our journey both positive and enjoyable. Living in a world where so many people find sexuality to be “taboo”, it’s nice to have people we can reach out to and discuss any sexual topic without being judged or ridiculed.

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
So far, we’ve learned that marketing is so much more than just pay-per-click advertising or posting your logo on a third party’s website. We’ve spoken with (and watched) several competitors go out of business for this very reason. We’ve learned through our own experience that networking and connecting with industry influencers in various ways works a lot better. We’re also finding out first-hand that word-of-mouth marketing is still possible.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Our largest marketing challenge thus far has been the ability to expand to an international market. In many situations, we’ve found that international shipping costs can be higher than the actual product itself. In addition to high shipping costs, many countries have strict import regulations. Due to these circumstances, we’ve decided to cater to the U.S. market only. Although we’ve limited our sales and marketing to the U.S., we’ve found amazing online shops on every continent and have redirected international buyers to those respective websites. Our goal isn’t always about “making the sale.” Instead, we want all consumers to find happiness in their purchase and enjoy the product.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
We’ve learned lots of things. Here’s some of our most prominent things we’ve learned:

  1. Have patience. As a new business, sales don’t just fly in. You have to work hard for them.
  2. Follow through on your promises and policies.
  3. Embrace criticism and build a better business from it.
  4. Don’t get discouraged over rejection.

If you had to think of just one thing you’d like to see change in the adult retailing industry, what would it be and why?
We would like to see more regulation regarding sex toy materials. With so many body-safe material options now available, we cringe every time we see manufacturers still making new products from unsafe materials.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Couples Playthings?
We’re really excited about the next twelve months! We’ve been seeing exponential growth in both sales and site visits month after month which is going to allow us to expand our sales channels. Very soon we will be starting in-home sex toy sales consultation and hoping to recruit independent consultants.  Assuming our growth continues, we also plan on making donations and sponsoring events that promote sexual freedom and anything of a sex-positive nature.

 

Thanks, Liam!

If you fancy seeing for yourself what all the hubbub is about, head over to the Couples Playthings website and tweet to them or see them on Instagram for good measure.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

PS. And don’t forget to sign up to receive SIX OF THE BEST – our free weekly email containing key weblinks covering the sex toy and adult retailing world AND hot marketing tips for your business.

INTERVIEW: Ukrainian Marketing Review, Brian Gray

The tables have been turned – temporarily! Lascivious Marketing Founder (and Chief Interviewer!) Brian Gray is in the hot seat, as Kiev-based marketer (and Co-Founder of Lovebox) Nataliya Vakhovskaya asks the questions for the Ukrainian online publication, Media Marketing Review.

Here is the full English version of the answers emailed back to Nataliya. Covering everything from marketing sex toys, noble crusades, industry associations, social media, and even heavy metal, there’s lots to read and ponder!

     

Nataliya- Vakhovskaya-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
Nataliya Vakhovskaya is asking the questions! [credit: Nataliya Vakhovskaya]
NATALIYA VAKHOVSKAYA: Tell your story please – how you decided to start a specialized agency?  How many agencies are on the market with the similar specialization as yours? For Ukraine it’s like nonsense to have a sex shop or an erotic accessories producer as a client for PR or marketing agency, nobody ready to invest in proper marketing and agency support.  What is the situation in UK?

BRIAN GRAY: Hello everyone. To begin with, every company needs effective marketing to not only thrive but just survive. And while other marketing agencies may be reluctant to seek or serve clients in the adult retailing sector, we’re here to help with plenty of enthusiasm and none of the reticence.

Before founding Lascivious Marketing I have had marketing research experience in the internet dating sector, and the UK’s Adult Industry Trade Association. Several years ago I also organised the XBIZ.net London Gatherings that brought together industry professionals and attracted attendees from several European countries as well as from here in the UK.

To my knowledge there is no other agency in the UK offering a similar range of services (including marketing research and customer insight) to the adult retailing sector and with the amount of commercial marketing experience accrued in other industries to call upon.

In the UK, adult retailers and lingerie companies do use marketing agencies for a variety of services, but it is not widespread. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the sheer number of micro enterprises competing in this sector, who very often lack the money to spend on such expertise. There’s also a general lack of appreciation for marketing itself, I feel. So, it will not be an easy sell, but we’re really keen to see the sector as a whole do well, and see customer-focused, marketing-led companies flourish.

We realise that in all businesses there is the constant ‘time versus money’ dilemma when considering marketing services. We empathise with companies in this predicament, and are committed to providing as much tips and guidance as we can on the Lascivious Marketing website https://lasciviousmarketing.com  If they are not time-starved they can see about doing the work in-house.

Alternatively, if their time is invaluable, they’ll look to appoint an outside agency. Through our visibility in the industry and content marketing efforts we sincerely hope this will stand us in good stead when that moment arrives. We aim to be the ‘go-to’ marketing consultancy for companies competing in the business of love, lust, and everything in between!

Today in Ukraine there are many mental restrictions from sex toys and frank discussions of sex relations between each other. People are ashamed to visit sex shops and tell about sex. Opinion leaders and bloggers refuse to cooperate with adult product brands. Sex needs to become a brand with a positive image. Where to start from? Can you recommend any first steps for promotion for sex toys market players? What is the situation in UK?
Very good question!  Within the UK alone there are a number of people proclaiming themselves to be ‘sex bloggers’, although the quality and consistency can vary hugely. There are also sex toy bloggers, reviewing sex toys and other adult pleasure products and posting these online. One erotic author even designed her own sex toy! Some of the more established ones – with the highest profile and largest social media following – will be sent sex toys and other products in return for a featured review. The more reputable ones will either be totally unbiased or they will have purchased the products themselves.

The UK itself is interesting regarding the marketing and selling of adult products. Retail outlets must apply to their local council for a license if they intend selling hard-core R18 pornography. Other conditions apply too. Window displays must adhere to certain criteria, and the proportion of sex toys on sale in comparison with other products also impacts upon whether a license is needed. Licenses varied in price across the UK and a few years ago Westminster City Council – which covers London’s SoHo district (known for its sex shops and prostitution) was ordered to repay more than £1 million for overcharging licensees.

There are still many ‘old school’ sex shops operating behind closed doors and are unappealing to visitors, especially women. But other retailers exist who are far more customer-focused and committed to delivering great customer service in an unintimidating shopping environment. There is still this traditional, conservative ‘British’ approach to sexuality that exists in parallel with a more open-minded and suggestive sexual culture. The media of course loves this dichotomy. They win either way, either criticising the blatant sexual nature of something while also revelling in the attention sex-related features create. There have been television shows featuring well known retailers such as Lovehoney and Ann Summers. In short, this long-held cliché of British people being ‘repressed’ is rather exhausted now.

There is also an established UK trade magazine for the erotic industry, who also run an industry awards competition.

The situation you describe in Ukraine is a sad one. Sex is a normal – and hopefully very enjoyable! –  part of everyday life. Surely an acceptable balance can be achieved whereby people who wish to learn more about sexuality and buy adult products can do so without shame or embarrassment. At the same time, this can be done respectfully so it does not offend other sections of society.

The situation you describe is almost like starting with a blank canvas. Change will not occur overnight; I suspect it will be more a case of incremental change, led by companies who have a long term commitment to the industry and a deep-seated personal desire to bring about change. It’s as much – if not more – to view this as a noble crusade, rather than merely operating a business. And generally, if overall category demand increases, then the opportunities for increasing individual profitability are better. But this comes with a big loud warning: this cannot be a crusade for just one company or individual – it has to be a group effort.

It’s important to find other like-minded people in the industry who share common aims. Start meeting regularly to discuss trends and initiatives you can work together or to increase awareness and understanding among consumers. Form a trade association that will work to advance the interests of customer-focused, forward thinking, and professional erotic retailers. Meet with journalists, give face-to-face interviews to establish personal connections and maximise ‘face time’ so that you will have created a bigger impression than if you had just been emailing with them.

For individual companies, as well as seeking out others in the sector to work with on joint initiatives that will help advance the sector as a whole, there are other things to consider. See if there are any business spaces available where different erotic retailers can come together and sell their products and meet customers in person to establish that personal connection. In the UK, the London Alternative Market (LAM) has been doing just that among the alternative and fetish community.

Commit yourself to content marketing, by having a clearly defined mission, choosing your methods wisely and ensuring they play to your strengths. Advertising and promotion in this type of market where the mainstream hasn’t accepted erotic products is probably going to be wasteful. If there has been some good PR achieved through industry initiatives or a monthly ‘erotic market’ event (like the LAM), then one has to assume that consumers most curious or keen to learn more will take it upon themselves to do so. And this is where great online content can really help out. Be there – and with an abundance of trustworthy, impactful content – when consumers reach that crucial stage of wanting to find out more and check out options.

Be so active with your content marketing that the media cannot ignore you any longer. Make them realise that there’s a professional industry committed to making people’s personal lives more fulfilling.

Ukrainian sex shop exterior display [credit: unknown, sourced by Nataliya Vakhovskaya]
Today all sex shops in Ukraine look like these pictures. Nothing similar with pleasure, actually. Do you know success stories of retailers whose profit increase after rebranding or new layout of stores?

Typical Ukrainian sex shop [credit: unknown, sourced by Nataliya Vakhovskaya]
There’s a great adult retailer I recently interviewed, called SinSins Boutique of Love, based in South East England. The owner visited an ‘old school’ sex shop (probably quite similar to the images you’ve shown) years ago and was aghast at what he saw. He subsequently set out to be something completely different, while still selling erotic products.

Sinsins Boutique of Love, interview with Brian Gray, Lascivious Marketing
[Credit: Sinsins Boutque]
From the outside it looks like a lovely gift shop – and it is! It’s just that the gifts are rather ‘spicier’ than in other shops. It looks so welcoming to anyone, regardless of age or gender.  They forged effective relations with the local council and have had a great ongoing relationship. Plus there is a thriving small business community there and they get involved in all manner of ways.

There are many young producers of sex toys and erotic lingerie appear on the international market (Dame, Rianne S, Bijoux Indiscrets, Crave etc). What are the main reasons of such changes and market growth?
Several factors play their part. The impact of technology – especially the internet – cannot be underestimated. With the advent of online marketplaces, anyone can create their own online store and start a company. Visit the Etsy website and you’ll see a plethora of small companies – often just a single person – making and selling everything from ornate wooden dildos to exquisite leather and latex fetish wear (and everything in between!). New designers and craftspeople now have a direct route to market using their own website or online marketplaces; very often both.

A further direct consequence of the internet is a bigger appreciation of the global nature of business now. A consumer in New Zealand and can see something she wants from an online seller based in a village in rural Spain and subsequently purchase an item. That cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to adult products.

There’s also the entrepreneurial culture of a county to consider. Britain has historically been called ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ so perhaps it is unsurprising that television shows such as ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Dragons Den‘ (I know two people who appeared on the show last year) are hits year after year. I’m sure there are some people who watch these types of shows and think, “Hey I’ve got a great idea, I’m going into business and I’ll be a millionaire by lunchtime!” I personally think these shows are just that: entertainment for the masses, and do not show the real blood, sweat and tears shed when running a business. That said, they must take some credit for making entrepreneurship ‘sexy’ in the first place.

What I have found amazing is the exposure young people are getting to entrepreneurship. A couple of years ago I got involved in an enterprise network run by the business school I attended for my Masters Degree in Marketing two decades earlier. I met twenty year olds still studying for their degree but already forming private limited companies and seeking funding and support for their fledgling enterprises. Furthermore, there’s a major Centre for Entrepreneurship there and many degrees either wholly or partly dedicated to entrepreneurship. It’s a brave new entrepreneurial world out there!

Lastly, I think there’s another potential factor accounting for the number of solopreneurs creating new websites or offering adult products. In the UK, there has been what economists are calling a ‘lost decade’ where wages have stagnated. Indeed the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that by 2022 average wages will be the same as they were back in 2007. Another think tank calculates the UK is facing its worst decade of real wage growth since the Napoleonic Wars. This is sobering reading! I would not be surprised in the least if a significant amount of new entrants to adult retailing were people already working one full-time job and still need additional money coming in to help pay for essentials like rent, food, or utility bills. But just to clarify, I have no evidence of this – it’s purely my opinion.

Please name some great campaigns on the market that successfully promote adult brands or adult stores.
One of the most successful adult retailers is a British company called Lovehoney. They have generated a lot of PR over the years and the catalyst for that on many an occasion has been their very shrewd – and hugely successful – licensing deals. They were awarded the exclusive worldwide licensing deal for the Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) range of pleasure products. Before that they struck up a deal with UK relationship counsellor and ‘sexpert’ Tracey Cox (yes that IS her real surname!) and had her face and name on some of their products.

But while no one can deny the huge commercial impact of the FSOG deal, what has made me smile are their most recent licensing deals with heavy rock bands Motley Crue and Motorhead. I’ve been a heavy metal lover for decades (I used to present a rock radio show back in the 1990s) and when I saw that they were releasing a range of sex toys named after several of their most well-known songs I laughed and shouted ‘Yeah!’.

Lovehoney won an award from the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association for their Motorhead collaboration, and I’m absolutely sure there will be more future licensing deals agreed, provided there is the right brand ‘fit’. This also has helped with their international expansion, and have been duly awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

What are the main mistakes of adult market players?
I do not think adult market companies make mistakes that are unique to this industry. Rather they are probably guilty of the same types of mistakes other companies in other sectors make that lack a marketing mindset. Perhaps the most visible mistake – at least to me – is the ‘one way traffic’ approach to social media. I see numerous sex toy and lingerie sellers relentlessly tweeting their wares….but nobody is engaging with them. Tweet after tweet after tweet. Either I mute them or I unfollow, and I can’t imagine I’m the only person doing that. Social media is about being ‘social’!

The second thing I tend to notice is that there are a lot of sex toy retailer websites that are devoid of any meaningful brand identity that really differentiates itself from the next one. When the industry barriers to entry are now so low, it’s a waste of time to be competing if you’re not fully prepared to give it 100% effort. Shape up or ship out! Differentiate or die!

There’s also a lack of content marketing. Some of the bigger, more established companies are ahead in this regard: some have their own communities, review panels, and all sorts of means of engaging with their customers. And they’re to be rightfully applauded. But for a lot of sellers, content marketing just flies over their heads. As does a lot of practical marketing wisdom, it seems.

As there’s a risk this could become a very long answer, I’ll conclude with one more potential failing, which is my long-held perception that social media and web analytics are replacing marketing analytics and insight which is not only wrong, but could have serious consequences. There’s a tendency for companies to replace properly designed and conducted customer surveys with simply asking people on social media for their thoughts. They don’t seem to understand that this cannot in any way be considered representative. There are no checks on the authenticity and identity of those who post. There is no way of even knowing if they are actual customers! On a more practical note, there is no option for real analysis if solely relying on open comments.

Then there is the danger of relying on web statistics. While they can reveal a lot, they cannot tell site owners and marketers whether page view durations are active (purchase consideration) or passive (laptop left running while the user is lying in the bath or asleep on the bed or walking the dog). Neither can they reveal anything about whether the website is the first choice or simply the least bad out of a mediocre selection.

Web stats don’t indicate how frequently customers visit rival websites, let alone identify which ones. Nor do they reveal how much money customers spend elsewhere on comparable products. They offer no clues as to the company’s performance next to its rivals, nor how well it is perceived by web visitors or customers. And of course, there is absolutely no information gleaned on how satisfied customers are and whether they will return, and/or recommend the website to others.

Hopefully I’ve made my point now! Of course, web statistics in their own right can be immensely valuable to a company, especially one that sells online. But it cannot and will not replace solid marketing research.

There are many law restrictions on the market. Even Facebook do not allow the promotions of adult goods pages. What marketing instruments could you recommend? Please name some examples.
Facebook is not a social media channel for adult retailers, in my opinion. A big reason for online adult retailing is the anonymity it provides: it’s a secret between you and the retailer what the postman delivers to your door. Why would a retailer spend time, effort, and perhaps money posting on Facebook, knowing that the number of ‘likes’ they receive is limited to those who are so open-minded they don’t care who knows that they like an adult retailing page. Furthermore, ‘likes’ are no valid predictor of subsequent purchase. I could go onto Facebook right now and ‘like’ 200 brands, and have absolutely no intention of ever buying anything from those companies. It’s meaningless. And more importantly, a distraction for time-poor adult retailers. So, don’t worry about Facebook.

For adult retailers whose products are either visually impactful or take the time to produce good visual content, Instagram is worth considering, as is Pinterest. But by far the best option is developing great content that target buyers will happily share their email address with you for. Building your own subscriber database means you own the contact details of the people you’ve worked hard to impress. A large Facebook following or mass of YouTube subscribers can disappear overnight if the powers that be suddenly pull the plug on you. Offer something worthwhile: a newsletter full of curated and/or original content, or a podcast. There’s a good few options available.

How do you build customer dialogue to receive feedback? How to be polite and get the information needed from the customer? I mean, is it okay to call customers and ask about their experience? Or to ask to participate in a survey? Besides social media, what channels are best suited for customer dialogue?
Anonymous – and well designed – customer surveys are excellent opportunities in which to not only obtain the data you need for key marketing decision-making, but also to convey the fact you care about what your customers think. Management guru Peter Drucker famously said: “If it can be measured, it can be managed.” So satisfaction levels can be measured quantitatively along with a whole host of other things, depending on the overall research objectives. Towards the end of the survey, it’s absolutely fine to ask an open question or two regarding satisfaction or potential improvements to the service experience. Research findings also make for great content marketing material, and the open comments provided by respondents (unattributed of course!) can be highlighted.

What are the main obstacles for sex toys producers and retailers nowadays?
A few immediately spring to mind. Firstly, the barriers of entry into this sector have all but disappeared. Given the advent of not only online marketplaces such as Etsy, the attractiveness of drop-shipping, and various research reports claiming the sex toy market over the next few years to be increasing and you have one very competitive industry. Everybody wants a piece of the action. What does that mean? A lot of micro businesses competing against one another, and often with very little to differentiate themselves because they have not thought through their brand identity or devised a solid marketing plan.

Secondly, there is the nature of the products themselves. There’s a big difference between trying to sell sex toys rather than shampoo. You know this yourself in Ukraine, Nataliya! Nobody is going to stand in your way if you want to advertise shampoo on television, in the newspapers, or other ambient media. Try to do the same with sex toys and you may have broadcasting authorities, regulators, moralists and religious groups breathing down your neck before you know it either prohibiting it, or placing restrictions on it. Some of this I agree with: for instance, I don’t think there should be sex toy advertising on terrestrial tv channels until after 9pm.

Finally, another difference between sex toys and let’s say shampoo again: financing and payment. Many major banks will reject any applications for financing, even opening an account with adult-related companies. They often cite ‘reputational risk’. This I find highly ironic given the activities of several western banks when it comes to money laundering or mis-selling financial products to customers! Furthermore, some payment processors or credit card companies may be difficult to deal with when applying for a merchant account. This in itself has created a new sector of adult-friendly payment processors, but it is another hurdle that adult retailers often face. Nobody said adult retailing was easy – even if many people think it is!

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!
Brian

PS. And don’t forget to sign up to receive SIX OF THE BEST – our free weekly email containing key weblinks covering the sex toy and adult retailing world AND hot marketing tips for your business.