LAS VEGAS - All is not fun and games for the sex toy industry these days. Like most businesses, adult novelty companies are caught in the throes of a bad economy.
Fortunately, adult toys and novelties are items that can never go digital. Sex toy vendors looking for how to take advantage of this fact gathered at the AEE seminar "Play Dates Aren’t Just for Kids: Adult Toys, Novelties, and Home Parties."
AVN Novelty Business editor Tony Lovett hosted the panel, which included representatives from Spartacus Enterprises, Good Vibrations, Stockroom.com, Passion Parties International, and upstarts OhMiBod. Despite their good humor and overall optimism, the panelists did not hide their recession woes.
Joel Tucker, the founder and owner of Stockroom.com, regretfully noted that 2008 was the first year the 20-year old novelty giant had not experienced growth. "It was a lackluster year," he said, "but, thankfully, we did not lay people off."
Tucker's comment caused a grumble on the auditorium floor from the owners of much smaller businesses. Tucker further explained the effects of the recession on retailers by pointing out that consumers now had a “sense of entitlement.” While they may only have three bucks to spend, they know there are thousands of retailers vying for those dollars.
Unfortunately, consumers aren’t interested in purchasing discounted merchandise.
"People aren’t switching to cheaper product. They’re just not buying overall,” said Patricia Davis of Passion Parties International.
Davis and her fellow panelists agreed that "added value" is key to making sales. "We give a free gift with every purchase—just like the cosmetic stores," Davis said.
Suki Dunham is the founder of OhMiBod, manufacturers of unique MP3 player-powered vibrators. Dunham spoke to the importance of thinking outside the box in terms of the production and marketing of sex toys. OhMiBod’s BodiTalk Escort made Maxim Magazine’s list of "Sexiest of Everything 2008" and was awarded Best for Phone Sex honors by Women’s Health magazine.
Along with added-value incentives and stocking quality product, the group encouraged retailers to launch home party promotions to create a buzz for items and a sense of community amongst its customers.
"The current economy is keeping people at home,” said Lovett. "And that’s our turf."