During an art exhibition, three strangers brought together by chance through a mutual acquaintance toyed with the idea of creating a premium line of adult pleasure massagers. Within four months, the three-designers Carl Magnuson and Eric Kalén, and engineer Filip Sedic-launched LELO (Luxury Erotic Lifestyle Objects), and their vision became reality.
"LELO is a successful mix of design, fashion, technology, and sleek Scandinavian style, and attracts a customer that highly values quality in their sex toy," says Sara Trygg, the company's public relations and communication manager. "LELO's mission and vision remains very much the same as defined in its first few months of existence: to provide a new breed of sensual well-being products (pleasure objects) for women and their partners. The vision is to make available high-quality alternatives to existing sex products, without taboos or prejudice, arousing and stimulating for both users and their partners. By blending fashion, femininity, engineering, and design, our aim is to create objects [that are] not just functional, but seductive in their own right, and we hope to inspire a positive and confident sexuality."
Founded in September 2003 in Stockholm, Sweden, LELO has grown to employ nearly 100 people worldwide, servicing about 40 global markets with sales offices in Shanghai, the United States (Santa Clara, Calif.) and Sydney, Australia, and with production facilities in Suzhou, China.
Sales of LELO's unique pleasure objects have been strong, and the company continues to aggressively open new markets, despite the fluctuating global economy. "We are globally active worldwide and not so sensitive for how the stock market goes up and down," Trygg says. "A vibrator is a household product, and we have rather seen the opposite in our sales this last year. So, from our perspective, it's when the market is shaky people turn to pleasure and sex."
"LELO has had stable growth, with 130 to 150 percent per year, and we don't see any negative trend that would change our forecast," says Kalén, the company's product manager. "The U.S. and Europe have been our main markets, but we see, especially, the Asian market starting to adopt the new trend with high-end toys."
According to Sedic, LELO's chief operating officer, "Asia is definitely [our] fastest-growing market, mostly depending on changes of strong women's emancipations that have been a bit late compared with fast economical development in the region."
Managing Director Andreas Åberg says the company is "growing on every market that we are active on, especially in Asia, where we just set up our new sales office." The company's agent in Australia is "doing a great job implementing LELO as a brand" there, Åberg adds.
Of course, with growth into new areas, the company must take the social and legal acceptance of adult toys into consideration in its marketing and sales. "What can differ in certain countries [are] regional laws and regulations about regional import and certification requirements," Sedic says. "LELO takes that into consideration, and our sales offices worldwide try to meet all our customers' needs for their different markets.
"I would say that the major difference is on how the products should be presented in different markets. For the Scandinavian and European market, it's beneficial to point out that LELO products are something new, revolutionary, and not mainstream on the sex-toy market. In Asia, its better to say that LELO is well established in the West but has not yet come to Asia. It is important to say that [the] products are coming from Europe."
Åberg, who built up worldwide sales from the beginning in fall 2004, says that "it's the Swedish design and quality aspect and that our products are rechargeable and environmentally friendly that has attracted U.S. customers to LELO."
Company growth, Trygg says, is a direct result of focusing solely on manufacturing and marketing its own products. "Being a company founded by men, developing products specifically geared toward women and the female sexuality is a matter requiring a delicate approach in the design and engineering process," she says. "LELO relies on extensive research and female focus groups throughout each development stage to give the most to our customers in product design and technology."
The LELO product line includes NEA, LILY, and YVA (tiny, powerful massagers developed to offer elegance, simplicity, and easy use); the full-size IRIS and the sleeker ELISE, which are described as "the beginning of a new era in sensual-massager functionality and design"; scaled-down pleasure objects LIV (a massager for men or women) and GIGI (a G-spot stimulator); and the LUNA Pleasure Bead System, a range of pleasure objects "specifically addressing the health and sensual benefits of female intimate fitness."
LELO constantly works on new products for its distinctive line and has several devices slated for release throughout 2008. "The plan for 2008 and coming years will be to expand our portfolio with several new pleasure objects," Åberg says, "and our goal is to build up a stronger relationship with our customers and distributors with [point-of-sale] material and marketing material."
Adding to the list of goals for the year, Sedic says the company aims to "introduce four new products to complete [our] portfolio of pleasure objects, as well as introduce complementary products [such] as lubricants, hygiene products, [and] accessories."
Trygg says LELO is experiencing a jump in brand identity, thanks to great reviews by sex experts and customers spreading the word. "In public relations, you can notice that the trend has changed over the past year," she says. "The fact that well-designed sex toys are here to stay [has] made the press focus more on female sexuality and the health benefits of using a sex toy."
LELO's products have a discreet appearance that is suitable for the mainstream press to feature, Trygg adds.
"LELO is fully focused on safety, quality, comfort, functionality, and the environmental aspect in our pleasure objects," Sedic says. "We believe it's important for our customer, and we want the LELO brand to become synonymous for this [and] that when people choose LELO, they know they get the best that can be offered on the market."
SE-111 38 Stockholm Sweden
LELO USA Contact:
U.S. Sales & Marketing Manager
4320 Stevens Creek Blvd., Ste. 205
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 404-7111 - fax