Tag Archives: retail

INTERVIEW: Eva Lerbs, pjur group

From eroFame exhibiting to taking to the road to talk with their stockists, pjur group from Luxembourg can never be accused of resting on their laurels.

Hard working pjur group CRM and Sales Representative Eva Lerbs offers an insight into company life and marketing the pjur product range of lubricants, lotions and creams.

BRIAN GRAY: First of all, introduce pjur to the world. When was the company founded, what does it sell, and so on?

EVA LERBS: More feeling, more sensations, more adventure. Whatever you’re looking for, at pjur we’ve got the right products for you. As a family run company, we’ve put our heart and soul into what we do for more than 20 years.

The pjur group started producing lubricants in Germany in 1995. With Alexander Giebel at the helm and headquartered in Luxembourg, the pjur group has maintained its production facilities in Germany, and has expanded rapidly into other countries, attaining a high degree of brand awareness in the process. Even though lubricants have been used since Roman times, pjur was the first company in the world to develop and market a silicone lubricant worldwide.

Our portfolio now comprises over 60 products from silicone- and water-based personal lubricants and massage lotions through products for toys and for stimulating and delaying performance right through to intimate hygiene products and niche articles for extra special preferences.

Describe your own role in the company, your responsibilities and typical tasks. What do you most enjoy about your job with pjur?
I am in the Sales department and responsible for different customers in Europe, especially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Apart from the daily business like taking orders and negotiate prices, I am spending a lot of time with personal calls and mail contact asking our customers if they need help or any support like product pictures or texts, answers for frequently asked questions or any other PoS material. My aim is to make every pjur customer happy and to support them as much as even possible.

Who do you define as your typical customer? What characteristics do your individual end-users, and retailers possess?
Our typical end customer doesn’t really exist as we have a product for nearly everybody: be it the woman in her sixties who is just experiencing her second spring needing a bit lubricating support, be it the 18 years old gay man who wants to make his first sexual experiences a bit more comfortable or the couple in their forties who just want to spice up their sex live with some new products. You see that our target group is very wide, so the characteristics of the retailers are too.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What one world would you like people to associate with pjur?
For pjur this word is definitely “quality”. The name pjur (pronounced “pure”) is a by-word for quality the world over, promising premium products “Made in Germany”. We only use ingredients that meet the highest purity and quality levels in our manufacturing processes. Quality is a top priority for us and we are not prepared to make any compromises on this.

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?
These days, key visuals are more important than ever. People get so many pictures, sounds and odours in their everyday life through their smartphones, television, in shopping malls or just outside at the bus station, so there is a real overstimulation. What we’ve learned is that sometimes less is more. Our simple yellow dot is something people just need to search for if they enter a sex shop or if they click-through a web site. In terms of new PoS or new products, you can say that you should just ask your customers for their needs. That is one of the key facts for success.

What are the main marketing challenges facing pjur, and how is the company overcoming them?
One of the most difficult parts of our marketing is to balance all the different cultures and markets we’re working in. As we work closely together with our local partners around the world, we can handle this problem very well, but there’s always a lot of work to do as a global brand.

We are just facing another problem with Google as they block adverts which show too much bare skin or contain words like “sex” or “vagina” in their Google AdWords. As we are a very high-quality company and don’t link our products to too sexy pictures, we can arrange with that and use more creative words and pictures. But I think that other companies could have some really big problems, even if they just try to describe their products.

Earlier in 2018, pjur released the results of a commissioned survey, conducted by YouGov (who I used to work for years ago!). It’s great to see companies in this industry using marketing research. Was this a one-off case? How important is market and customer research to pjur’s continuing success?

No, not at all! Research is so important for a global company to find out about new trends and to get to know their target groups better and better every day. So we do surveys from time to time to just find out if there is something, that needs to be improved, some new strategy, some new ideas. It is also a great way to get feedback from the market about new product ideas and so on.

What has been the highlight so far in your time with pjur, and why?
Oh, that question is not easy to answer. I am with pjur for more than two years now and a lot of great things happened since then. I think one of the highlights is the eroFame – the first adult trade fair I ever visited – as this was really special to me and still is. It is so great to see all the people you’re talking with by phone or email, to see other brands and all these crazy products in the adult industry you’ve never thought they really existed. Apart from that, another highlight this year was my trip to different erotic stores in Germany because all the owners of the shops and the sellers were so wonderful and we really had a lot of fun beside the work and training.

The pjur group presence at eroFame erotic trade fair, Hanover - interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: pjur group, Luxembourg, S.A.]]
The pjur group presence at eroFame erotic trade fair, Hanover [credit: pjur group, Luxembourg S.A.]

What are your own personal strengths that you bring to pjur?
I am a very communicative and open-minded person. I talk to everybody and am not afraid to get to know new people – which is very good for my job with pjur. I am not afraid about talking about sex and all subjects related to it. This makes it very easy to communicate with all the customers and sellers. Sometimes they have some special questions and I am always happy to answer. Apart from that, I always find creative solutions for individual advertising at the point of sale or at events where our customers take part. Many of them come back to me and are thankful for my input, which makes me really happy. We recently realised great flyer campaigns and redesigns of store windows, for example.

Time is our most precious commodity. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I think it is very important to always take the time for a personal conversation with a business partner. Even if he calls exactly the minute you wanted to leave the office: take the time and let him know that you are always there. This is something I’d recommend to anybody as most people appreciate these little things and your relationship to them will be better than ever.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far in your erotic retailing industry career?
In the last two years I’ve learned that this industry is probably one of the most sympathetic ones you’ll find in this world. People on trade fairs as well as our customers and business partners are always in a good mood and they love what they do. This is something I haven’t experienced in other industries where I’ve worked before.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for pjur as a company?
Within the last 23 years, pjur has become a global leader in marketing lubricants and intimate products and its way hasn’t come to an end yet. We’ve been growing every year: There’s new colleagues and partners every year, new countries we conquer and new products we develop. Just some weeks ago, we acquired our US distributor, so I think in this country we may see the biggest effort and change within the next twelve months. Apart from that, people can look forward to new products in 2018, which will be launched at eroFame in Hannover. So, come to our booth and connect!

Thanks Eva!
Learn more about pjur group and their wide product range and pay them a visit on Instagram too.

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!

INTERVIEW: Alexandra Houston, Le Boutique Bazaar

Fancy a one stop shopping experience in London that caters to the erotic and alternative? Say hello to Le Boutique Bazaar.

Just a few days before their ‘Dirty Valentine’ event, co-Founder Alexandra Houston gives an insight into the who’s, what’s, and why’s. And a bit more besides.

BRIAN GRAY: Let’s get started. How and why did you decide to launch Le Boutique Bazaar (LBB), and what was your own background before this? Had you previously been involved in erotic retailing or erotic fashion or was this something new for you?

ALEXANDRA HOUSTON: Realising how many of London’s unique young fashion labels had been pushed out of brick and mortar spaces due to the increasing rents (and were forced to sell online-only) I had already set up Wasted Chic, for young designers and vintage brands. Being an active member of the Torture Garden fashion scene (and a total outfit obsessive), it only seemed natural to approach them about creating a space to showcase our community’s creativity and give people a place to shop for those incredible looks!

Your events feature a variety of erotic or alternative subsectors: lingerie, latex, jewellery, accessories and so on. Do you go out searching for brands to approach, is it the other way around, or a bit of a combination? What criteria do you have in place vis-à-vis selecting appropriate brands to exhibit?
Originally Charlotte and I had a big list based on our own experience in the scene: being fashionistas ourselves we already had contact with a lot of amazing brands, so that was a natural start. Since then we have maintained a lot of that original list as regular traders, as well as approach people we find via social media and consider applications from those that approach us. 2017 was the first year we saw designers flying in from other countries to participate, which was very exciting for us!

I’ll appreciate if you don’t have any hard data on this, so your own gut feel (or feedback you get from sellers) will suffice. Give us some insight on the attendees. Are they coming in specifically to see or buy items from a particular seller, or do they purchase from multiple sellers?
It really is a mixture. There is definitely a big contingent coming to see favourite designers, or to try on something they have seen online. We know that the ‘in the flesh’ element is a big part of the success of our events. Latex especially is a tricky thing to buy without seeing it in real life. With an actual event you can try things on, get measured up by the designer, and see the colour swatches. We think that because so many sample garments are made in standard black / red / pink etc, people just tend to buy what they see online rather than risk picking a colour, or colour combination, from a little thumbnail colour chart. As you will see at LBB, latex comes in a huge variety of colours, patterns and textures, so it’s really worth coming along and pushing the boat out with a  custom option, so you can have something that really reflects your personality. Aside from that, we do have a lot of ‘scene-sters’ who come down to socialise in a non-club environment, as well as more discrete shoppers , stylists, performers, models and fashionistas all passing through the doors looking for something different and unique.

There’s no shortage of talented erotic entrepreneurs around (some of your sellers already feature on the LM website) across these different sub sectors. To what extent do you think there’s the possibility for sector-specific (e.g. purely latex one month, lingerie the next, etc.) events to be held?
We think the allure of LBB is that there is always something to discover, and it’s always a real mix. Luckily for us, in terms of applications to trade, about 25% of the line up is usually first time vendors, which keeps it fresh for everyone. That saying, we have noticed sales trends over the years and do curate a bit more specifically to accommodate those – say lingerie at Valentine’s, Latex around Halloween, Festival Fashion towards Spring. We also occasionally host brands with synergistic products such as homewares or beauty items, though we keep it limited as we are primarily a fashion market.

What three adjectives would you want your attendees to associate with your events?
A few adjectives…. inspiring, glamorous, unexpected, friendly

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Perhaps ‘discovery’?
We aim to help people discover new products within favourite brands, discover new brands in general, and for total newbies to discover a curated selection of the best in alternative and erotic fashion.

Customer feedback is vital for not only the individual brands present at your events, but for yourself too. What have been the most important things you’ve learned so far from attendees?
We definitely wish we had a clearer way to measure this, though we do know if we could wave a magic want we’d have a fourth room to fill with seating (and maybe a few more brands as we are always packed to the rafters!), and an attached venue for an afterparty!

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 was very important for us to create our own identity within the alt / fetish community, but not limited to. We have opted for a more ‘fashion’ than ‘fetish’ approach, being inclusive of subcultures and mainstream fashionistas alike. The number one thing about our branding is that we shoot our own artwork, showcasing talent we work with and the unique people within our scene. Our ‘cover girls’ are all artists of some kind in their own right, they are more than just pretty faces! The fashion we aim to support is more about creativity than sex, and so while we do occasionally use the word fetish, we try to not overuse it. The best thing about where we are placed within the market is that it is based on community, so luckily being in a niche means that there is a high potential for plenty of word of mouth business coming our way.

One of the most noticeable things about LBB, is the absence of a dedicated website, relying on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. What’s the rationale behind this, and will there be a website in the future?
As we exist in an event form only at the moment, it’s not essential right now, as the bulk of our info is more easily accessed online than from a traditional website. In my experience, more and more businesses are forgoing the hassle of creating a website that needs constant updating, just directing traffic to social media sites where the latest info, images, listings, reviews etc can be found, plus a place for the community to meet and chat in cyberspace. We do feel there is a real difference in the social outlets though. Many discover us via Instagram (@leboutiquebazaar) which is mostly a ‘moodboard’ page, where we repost works that inspire us, and occasional event photos. Facebook tends to be more information based, event listings, questions answered etc and Twitter…well, we use it, but it doesn’t account for a huge amount of our reach. This all saying, there has been a LBB e-commerce site in the works for a while, and we’ll hopefully be making further progress on it this year.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Le Boutique Bazaar?
Another 3 events as standard (Springtime Soiree, Fetish Weekend, Evil Xmas) and hopefully another edition of our outdoor summer pop-up (Taboo Bazaar) in conjunction with Satanic Flea Market. Last year we did it at Old Spitalfields Market and it went down a treat! This plus focusing on getting our ecomm site of the ground, now that we have a bit more time to focus on it properly.  Personally I’d like to take LBB on tour, but we’ll have to wait and see if that can become a reality this year!

Thanks Alexandra!
If you’re London-based  (or fancy a good excuse to visit) and you’re keen to come along to Le Boutique Bazaar, then head to their social media accounts.  You can find them on Instagram and Facebook.

As earlier mentioned, some LBB sellers have already graced the pages here at Lascivious Marketing: Persephonie Ncredible, Yummy Gummy Latex, and Innocent Sex Toys. Why don’t you get further acquainted with their wares too!

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!