Tag Archives: fetish

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.

 

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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.

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[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.

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[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.

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[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: Pierre & Hannah, Slap Stick Club

A London fetish club without the metal, mood, or pretensions, but with lots of fun instead? Meet the happiest of ‘Slappers’, Pierre and Hannah, Founders of the Slap Stick Club.

The fun loving fetishists offer their thoughts on the club ethos, competition, customer engagement (despite social media restrictions and customer discretion) and other marketing topics.

 

Slap Stick Club Founders, Pierre and Hannah. Interview with Lascivious Marketing
The black and white stripes of London’s fetish scene! Pierre and Hannah from the Slap Stick Club. [credit: Slap Stick Club]
BRIAN GRAY: So in a nutshell and in your own words, what is Slap Stick Club, and what’s the brief history behind it all?

Pierre: The Slap Stick Club is a social, fun and friendly fetish party with a focus on play. We started on this little adventure mainly to fill what we think was a gap in the London fetish scene and to create the type of event we craved for ourselves. I also clearly remember a hot tub and way too much prosecco… That helped a lot to kick-start the creative part.

Hannah: We also wanted to create a party that crushed the grimy underground reputation of fetish. Why can’t it be acceptable in everyday life?! Of course we are all too aware of why it is stigmatised so but this is our own little way of helping normalise kink and sexual liberation.

Given your name, many people would be forgiven for initially thinking you were a comedy club rather than a fetish club. What made you settle on this moniker? Were there any other contenders?
P:
Very early on, we knew we wanted to have a much more relaxed approach and environment than other clubs. Sometimes everything feels so horribly serious! (“Why SO serious?!”) So frivolity and humour were a given from the start. Hannah came up with the “Slap Stick Club” very quickly; it immediately felt like the perfect match for us. It’s an identity and an attitude, it’s a cute pun, infinitely reusable (I love being able to call our patrons “Slappers”!), and instantly recognisable once you’ve heard about it. It was also miles away from the “hardcore” naming we’d seen floating around.

I remember thinking about “DIY KINK” when we were still at the project stage but in retrospect… Just no.

H: People are still very nervous about admitting they are part of this kind of ‘scene’ and by giving it a name that is not directly linked with sexual escapades allows us to market more freely and our adored Slappers to share without worry of people making assumptions (even if they are true!). Also, I just love a good spanking! Seemed fitting 😉

There’s obviously a very well renowned and long established London fetish club that’s successfully spread its wings near and far. And there are other fetish clubs competing as well. Where do you fit into this? How do you differentiate yourselves?
P:
And we do visit all of them more than often! We are in no way aiming to eclipse any of those, but we bring a needed (we think) alternative to the giant, everything-for-everyone clubs, the “kinky” sex-parties, swingers clubs and the specialised, niche events. We want to bring another flavour, a night where you don’t have to worry about the make or cost of your outfit, where you know you won’t have to wait hours for “your turn” on the furniture, with space to meet people and try out new things. In summary, a place to actually play in a safe and friendly environment!

H: We are very active hosts as well. We are there to facilitate people’s exploration of the scene and a chance to actually talk and converse as well as play and join in. We welcome everyone that comes in. We have a defined ‘uniform’ so we are easily identifiable and this helps make people feel special and included. I mean, this is a fabulous community! We want you to feel that way too!

What can attendees expect on a visit to the Slap Stick Club?
P:
Firstly, Hannah and I endeavour to personally meet all of our attendees to welcome them, take them through the house rules and introduce them to the club. Then, once inside, a friendly and open-minded crowd, lots of furniture pieces and our fan-favourite “cuddle-puddle” corner. We also aim to organise one or two performances or demonstrations at each party. We also have a Polaroid camera available for use by our patrons; that way, no risk of digital traces AND you get to keep a souvenir! Oh, and stripes. Loads of black and white stripes!

H: And don’t forget the welcome glass of bubbles! We also chose to pass up the heavy metal and house music and have opted for a more electroswing/jazz or rockabilly theme. I have always loved the idea of being spanked to Duke Ellington.

Slap Stick Club logo, interview with Brian Gray, Lascivious Marketing.
Fun fetishism!     [credit: Slap Stick Club]
What defines your typical Slap Stick Club attendee, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
P:
Hmm, Awesome? Our core audience is quite eclectic in taste and experience. Some are avid players and other are new but ready to explore.

For our brand, that’s easy: friendly, fun, sexy !

H: Our attendees started as our friends and I think because of that, we have continued to spread that vibe. People are open and intrigued, nervous but enticed. And I have to admit, they are a goddamn sexy bunch!

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
P:
Slap!
H: hahaha – agreed.

What has been the highlight so far in your journey, and why?
P:
I had a very meaningful and heartfelt exchange with one of our attendees following a minor incident and them telling me they’ve rarely felt that looked after and safe in any other club was really an intense feeling. More generally, any returning customers are proofs of a job well done!

H: The highlight for me is most definitely with the people I have met through our parties. I have met some fabulously interesting people all doing wonderful and ambitious things with their lives and these parties have brought us together. I am so excited to see where these happy collisions may lead us!

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?
P:
There have been a few things:

Regularity in communication. Every day, every other day, talk to your audience. Not every post needs to be a masterpiece in social media marketing, but tell your story, even if it’s just your mood.

Diversity. There’s nothing worse than being predictable. If you do the same thing or use the same pattern repeatedly, you’re going to bore people.

Meet face-to-face. This has been one of the funniest part of this “job” so far; meeting the latex maker, furniture builder, club owner, performers. Word of mouth is not dead and no amount of retweet is going to top befriending your colleagues on the scene! (And I’d say ESPECIALLY on the fetish scene).

Slap Stick Club Event flyer
Join the band of happy ‘Slappers’!
[credit: Slap Stick Club]
H: Marketing for events like this is tricky. Facebook refuse to advertise or boost posts for anyone with an adult content. Many people (including a segment of our target audience) are new to the scene and so don’t want to engage in anything that may link them to that activity. PR is great. Personal connections with established people in the scene always helps.

We do still do flyers. They are good in shops and stores. We also flyer other major clubs on the London scene. But it is a tricky product to market for when you are still relatively new. We are constantly learning and reviewing what we do. I have also been thinking about setting up a fetish marketing symposium of some kind…. fostering discussion and sharing ideas.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
P:
Let’s say a widely popular online social network’s views on what constitutes “suggestive” and adult content…

We had to re-orient paid advertisement towards specialist sites, sadly with widely less reach (if much, much more relevant!). We’re slowly building our SEO profile as well, but that more of a long-term game.

H: Yes, I agree. There is a growing level of competition out there and we are constantly reminding ourselves not to feel threatened by this but challenged and excited by these new events and clubs – possible collaborators! We have our own, I believe, strong, brand and we should continue to push that and not panic!

If you could get another adult brand – whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products or BDSM equipment – involved with your events, what would it be and why?
P:
Latex /fetishwear designers, in a heartbeat. Party for purely selfish reasons, but also because we know our core audience love them as well and it would provide a real win-win scenario for everyone involved.

H: I agree. Latex fashion is what got me into the scene. I think there is a lot of scope and diversity in that area. It photographs well, there are a lot of designers out there that we can easily collaborate and cross promote with and it is diverse; like our audience. We are aware some of the bigger clubs also have these connections however for us we see it as even more immersive. And who doesn’t like getting dressed up?! This is the perfect escapism (I’m a real exhibitionist so that helps!).

Keep calm and start slapping - Slap Stick Club interview with Lascivious Marketing
What are you waiting for?!
[credit: Slap Stick Club]
What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far in your fetish event careers?
P:
Triple, quadruple-check dates, times, costs, etc. with ALL your providers or third parties!! There’s a pervasive tendency for forgetfulness that you have to contend with constantly…

And when you do find consistently reliable partners, cherish the hell out of them!

H: For me it is the duty of care. What we are doing in terms of play pushes the boundaries of sexual exploration and with that comes a great responsibility for the event managers to ensure that people feel safe and are safe. If we look at some of the activities that people partake in, it can be tricky to ensure that people really are having fun and are not put in compromising positions. Therefore we have our house rules. Everyone is taken through them on arrival even if they are a seasoned Slapper! And myself and Pierre are constantly on the lookout. We encourage play but if we think it is going too far, we will intervene. We do break brand here and take this VERY seriously.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for the Slap Stick Club?
P:
More slaps! Obviously larger parties but also more community-orientated events in between (talks, meet-ups, sexy Sunday lunches). We also have a few fun collaborations in mind…

H: Watch this space! xx

If you fancy giving the Slap Stick Club a visit – and after reading this, it’s mightily tempting! – visit their website at slapstickclub.com  Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter too, at @slap_stick_club
Instagram too? Yep…. slapstick.club

 


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

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