ILS 'State of the Industry' Panel Talks Trends

Sep 13, 2016 5:10 PM PST

LAS VEGAS — Day two of the International Lingerie Show in Las Vegas featured five seminars with topics that ranged from lingerie trends to a comprehensive look at the state of the pleasure products industry.

The State of the Industry panel, which was moderated by XBIZ Associate Publisher Sara Ramirez, featured Eldorado founder Larry Garland, b-Vibe founder Alicia Sinclair, Entrenue President Joe Casella, Fun Factory director of marketing and education Kristen Tribby and Deja Vu’s Megan Swartz.

The five industry vets, each of who possessed 10-plus years of experience discussed the evolving landscape of the pleasure products industry. The group noted technology and sex education as the two most influential trends.

According to Sinclair, one of the most notable trends nowadays is that manufacturers are focusing more on the consumer experience. “Before there wasn’t a lot of thought into how consumers would use the toy,” she said. “More and more manufacturers are creating toys that are distinctly made for pleasure, and they are incorporating sexual health into their development. They are having more interaction with sexperts.”

According to Casella, while the state of the industry is “very healthy,” he’s says he has seen a “race to the bottom” when it comes to the pricing of sex toys.

“I would like to see more brands protecting their prices more and supporting healthy, smart business practices,” he said.

Swartz said that as a retailer, deep discounts aren’t what she considers as making a brand more appealing.

“It’s more important to have support,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a bidding war, it should be about the support that I get. I’m glad that a lot more manufacturers are putting more effort into creating an in-store experience that consumers can interact with.

When the conversation turned to the mainstream media’s interest in pleasure products, Tribby said that while the “Fifty Shades” craze did attract media in a new way, it wasn’t the first time and certainly not the last.

Tribby said, “There will always be mainstream interest, but are we prepared? Retailers weren’t savvy enough about creating a Fifty Shades experience and many consumers were left disappointed. The real question is how can we create an experience that will make the customers come back.”

Sinclair noted that much of mainstream’s interest in the pleasure products industry is based on humor. “There is a lot of room for conversation,” she said. “We need to work on building it and enabling better dialogue.”

When discussing technology, rechargeability was described as becoming standard in the industry while teledildonics continues to be an emerging trend. According to Tribby, couples’ toys are extremely popular, however those that can “disappear in the action” — as in not interfere — are the most on the cutting edge. She said Fun Factory is gearing up to release the “next big thing” along these lines.

Overall, the panelists agreed that although the industry has come a long way, they predict that a greater appreciation — or even just acceptance — for sexual pleasure is the next milestone. According to Garland, retailers can prepare by becoming educated on sex.

“Be the resource for consumers,” he said. “Educate yourself and become the go-to source for knowledge and products.”

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