Sexual supplements are an inherent part of the product range for many European adult retailers, whether they are running a brick and mortar store or an online shop. This product category is also the focus of our interview with Django Marecaux, the General Manager of Vitenza, who explains how the trade can truly realise the potential of sexual supplements.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I’d like to know: What is the definition of a sexual supplement, and which products fall into that category?
Django Marecaux: If you are looking to get more out your sex life, or if you have had to put up with a sexual issue such as low libido or erectile problems for a number of years, supplements can provide a natural answer. In today’s market, there is a large variety of pills, creams, gels, and more, all designed to help enhance different aspects of sexual health, for instance semen volume among men, or sex drive among women.
Food supplements such as vitamin pills have been around for decades, but when did the first sexual supplements appear on the market?
For years, the only way for men and women to resolve a sexual health problem was to visit their doctor, looking to get a prescription. However, not everyone can get access to medicine and not everyone wants to use drugs because of the risk of side effects. This created great demand for naturally made sexual enhancement supplements, which don’t require a prescription and have no known negative side effects since they are made with herbal extracts.
Can you tell us about the potential of the sexual supplement category? Are the consumers aware of these products? How popular are they?
Unlike a sex toy or a device such as a pump, sexual supplements are consumable. Once your customers see for themselves what these items can do for them, will come back time and time again to buy more. While it is true that toys and devices carry a higher initial price tag, if you can get just a few customers to regularly use a supplement, the potential for repeat business is amazing.
We only choose to represent products that have proven popular in terms of quality, ingredients used, and time on the market. Many of the supplements that you find in the Vitenza catalogue have been around for a number of years. These products would not have survived and would not still be here today if they did not have a loyal following of customers who continue to use them. In turn, this helps inspire new customers to buy into a brand, as they see a great many other people already using the product and taking advantage of the benefits.
Which channels of distribution do you use to present these products on the market?
As a wholesaler, the main channel of distribution that Vitenza uses is retailers, the majority of which have both an online and offline presence. Many of our clients report that these kinds of products make up for a big portion of monthly sales.
How much of your sales are generated in the adult market? How important is this market for your company?
For Vitenza, there is a good split between the sales we make in the adult market and those we make in the health and wellbeing sector. This is because the brands that we distribute exclusively sell well for erotic purposes, but are also developed for sexual wellness. A man who suffers from weak erections does not visit an adult shop to find a solution to his problem; he more than likely visits online health sites for an answer. All of our markets, and the clients we work with in these markets, are important to us. Customers market our sexual supplements in several different ways, so it is vital to appreciate this and nurture healthy and regular sales.
Samuel Ruddy (Vitenza‘s Business Manager for the United Kingdom) and Tracey Whitmore (founder and owner of the Vibez Adult Boutique)
Do you think that the adult retail trade pays enough attention to this product group, be it in walk-in stores or online shops? Where do you see room for improvement in that regard?
As mentioned before, Vitenza have clients who state that sexual supplements account for tens of thousands of pounds / euros worth of sales each month. The smart ones recognise the potential to make good money with supplements and already do so. Other online stores and walk-in shops place a focus on toys or devices with a high price tag, but with those, there is no repeat business to be had for the shop.
Do you have some advice for the trade to generate greater turnover with sexual supplements? Which differences are there between the e-commerce and the brick and mortar segment as far as that goes?
The simplest, yet most effective tool at your disposal is knowledge. If you know your product inside and out, you can almost always quash any quibbles or concerns that your customer has about buying a sexual supplement. This is why Vitenza offer extensive product training to help you get the most out of selling this type of product. Britain-based bricks and mortar retailers like Vibez Adult Boutique and Nice N Naughty can testify to the benefits of receiving training. We have had sessions with both businesses and they each felt more confident and capable to present our sexual supplements afterward.
Another great trick is to dress up your product. In a store, this could be a POS display, whereas, in an online shop, it could be a banner, videos, or graphs / charts. Again, we are more than happy to provide you with all of this, so that the supplement stands out and gets bought by your customers.
Every user knows them: unwanted spam mails advertising ‘wonder pills’ and dubious ad messages presented in blinking banners. How can serious online retailers fight the bad reputation of sexual supplements, how can they gain the consumer’s trust?
Spam messages that flood inboxes are a great form of flattery for us! The companies behind these ‘wonder pills’ wouldn’t bother to create them if the original products that they are imitating wouldn’t work for many thousands of people, worldwide.
What’s more, sexual supplements can have a very good reputation. As highlighted earlier, we only take on brands that have established themselves on the market, brands that men and women are not only familiar with, but also brands that they ask for by name. In short, many of our products already have the trust of the customers because they have been on the market for many years, whereas ‘wonder pills’ tend to only last for a handful of months.
What can the owners of brick and mortar shops do to direct the attention of their customers to sexual supplements or make them more amenable to the idea of using such products?
The clients who have made this really work for them are the ones who were prepared to treat sexual supplements like any other item. Again, I can appreciate that it is easy to dedicate more space, time, resources etc. to products with higher price tags, but if you put just half of that commitment into supplements, you could vastly increase your sales figures. We did this with UK based retailer, Harmony, who are now placing more focus on supplements than ever and are reaping the awards.
So, give them a whole wall, or a cabinet instead of half a shelf behind the counter. Also, Vitenza can arrange for product samples to be sent out, allowing your customers to get hands on with the product and even try them, without any cost to your business. These are just two options available, and we fully encourage you to get inventive with the marketing of sexual supplements. Tell us your ideas and we’ll gladly try to support you to increase the marketing power of these products.
How much do retailers have to know about the topic and about the products to be able to give sound advice to their customers in their stores? And how and where can they get that knowledge?
Retailers make it their job to know their product, and our customers are often biting our arm off to get some training.
Onsite and video conference training sessions are a part of our standard service, for big or small retailers, online or offline.
The brick and mortar trade is dominated by the colourful world of vibrators. How should retailers present products such as sexual supplements that don’t immediately catch the consumer’s eye? What can they do to make these products a highlight of their product range?
Combining what I have said previously for some of the other questions, there are many things a shop can look to do in order to bring more attention to sexual supplements in store. As mentioned, you can give them a more prominent or bigger position in the shop. Apart from this, Vitenza can give you an array of marketing materials, including posters, P.O.S. stands (big and small), free samples and more.
Are there Pan-European or national laws or regulations pertaining to the sale of sexual supplements?
We work closely with all local authorities across Europe and always follow any advice that they pass onto us.