What trends have emerged throughout the past years? Will they continue to dominate in 2016? And what will be the next big thing in the adult industry? These questions are obviously very important, and to answer them, EAN turned to Adam Lewis, the inventor of the PULSE product line.
Hand on heart, what is your product of the year 2015? And what are the reasons for that choice?
Adam Lewis: For me I think it has to be the womanizer. It isn’t very often that a brand new technology/new form of stimulation comes along. Despite the products initial dubious looks, it seems to be flying off the shelves. I am particularly impressed by the sales volume given the high price of the toy. It has definitely given me food for thought.
It has been a few months since eroFame 2015, but still, I’d like to know what you thought of that show? Is eroFame an accurate representation of the market?
I really do think that the event is fantastic! It seems to have gone beyond simply being a meeting place for the European community and instead cemented itself as a global show. I meet Americans, Australians, Russians and customers from Asia at the show. It really has become a global destination.
Which trends had the biggest impact on the adult market in 2015? Was it app-controlled toys?
Personally I don’t think it is anything technological or even product related. I think the trend that has had the biggest impact on the industry is the wider acceptance of the mainstream to include and talk about our products and industry. There seems to be less stigma attached to what we do than there used to be. Fifty Shades as well as the more mainstream marketing activities by brands such as Hot Octopuss seem to be having an impact on how the mainstream regard and talk about our industry.
“Long live the realistic-looking, flesh coloured vibrators and dildos, I say!”
Many feel that the industry may overdo it with its focus on modern technology such as app controls, fearing that this development is based neither on actual demand, nor on real added value. What is your opinion?
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Is it a trend driven by the industry or more of a fad that manufacturers have created in order to differentiate their products? That said, I think using the term ‘modern technology’ is too broad as I believe new technologies that focus on function such as creating a new or different kind of stimulation/sensation (such as the womanizer has done) add a huge amount of value.
Traditionally, design has been regarded as the single-most important factor determining the success or failure of a sex toy. Have technology and functionality overtaken design in that regard?
For me the single most important factor has always been functionality. If a product works well and delivers intense pleasure to the user, then this product is highly likely to succeed. Products that look great but don’t function well tend to have short lifespan in my opinion. I would rank them in order of functionality, design and then technology in this order.
Once, product development was seemingly based on the notion that, as long as it vibrates, you’re in good shape. These days are over, but how has product development evolved in the meantime? Has it become more professional, more specialised? Has it become … better?
I think the industry has been split. There are those manufacturers who still take the view that ‘as long as it vibrates, you’re in good shape’ and then there are those manufacturers that are determined to think outside of the box and create something completely new and exciting for users. For those still prepared to manufacture something that simply vibrates the process has pretty much stayed the same. For those innovators however, manufacturing has become much more professional and specialised, closer akin to say the consumer electronics market.
“In my view, a toy should only really be considered a couple’s toy if it is able to deliver duel stimulation to both partners.”
Consumer feedback, suggestions from experts such as therapists, doctors, gynaecologists, scientific data gathered through product tests … All these things have become part of the product development process. But is that alone enough to create a top-seller or do you need more?
The information provided by these resources should form a huge part in any development process. In essence these reputable sources are telling you what consumers want and therefore provided manufacturers with a road map of what they need to create in order to meet user demands. This is most certainly the first step towards creating a top-selling product but that’s all it is…a first step. These products then need to be designed, presented and costed in a way that consumers will actually WANT to use them. If all these factors are achieved, only then will you have a top-selling product.
We all know the consumers are more savvy and well-informed nowadays, so what’s most important to them when they go shopping for adult products? Technology? Functionality? Quality? Brand? Price?
As I said earlier, the most important aspect in my eyes from a consumer’s perspective is that they want a product that is extremely effective. That it fulfils its purpose well. They then want this product at the right price. Quality, especially for the higher price points products is also to some extent important, however technology and brand I believe are less important when it comes to consumers purchasing decisions.
Today, every other product is advertised as a couple product, it seems. Is this development worrisome?
Well, in my opinion, it sends a slightly confusing message to consumers. What exactly is a couple’s toy? Any product that can be used together with a partner could in essence be considered a couple’s toy. In my view, a toy should only really be considered a couple’s toy if it is able to deliver duel stimulation to both partners such as the We-vibe or our PULSE II DUO for example. A toy that has a remote control that one partner can operate for example in my opinion isn’t really a true couple’s toy. But this is only my opinion.
“The most important aspect in my eyes from a consumer’s perspective is that they want a product that is extremely effective.”
And what is your opinion on the resurgence of realistic-looking, flesh-coloured vibrators and dildos we’ve seen lately?
Long live the realistic-looking, flesh coloured vibrators and dildos, I say!
Products like your PULSE have helped take male-oriented products to the next level. How would you sum up the situation in this market segment today? And how much better can sex toys for men become?
This is a huge growth market and I believe that changing attitudes and a growing number of progressive manufacturers that are designing interesting, unusual and effective toys in this segment are doing a great job in changing attitudes and growing the market in this space. It is only in recent times that manufacturers have started to look at male toys in a different more technology and design orientated way. There is plenty more to come in this space I believe.
Today’s consumers know a lot more about sex toys, and therefore, they are more demanding. How will product development change and evolve to meet these expectations?
I think that is already happening. These consumers are looking for functionality, quality and design at a higher price point then they have ever done before. The average price point for products is moving up as consumers are becoming more willing to pay money for top products and therefore so are the toys that manufacturers are producing.
Adam Lewis, founder of the Hot Octopuss brand and inventor of the PULSE product line
Do you expect any major changes in terms of product development and product trends in 2016, and if so, what will change?
I’m delighted to say that general innovation seems to be a trend.
Which of the buzz words we’d been hearing in 2015 will continue to play a big role this year: High-tech toys? Long distance relationship toys? Teledildonics?
For me the most exciting emerging segment in our industry is Virtual Reality (VR). For me it’s not a question of whether this will be the next big thing but rather when. This segment is still in its infancy with companies like Kiiroo pioneering the way. That said, the next 5-10 years will see VR start to take off and Hot Octopuss is keeping a very close on this space, biding our time and working out exactly when the best time to enter.
Suppose you could develop a product without having to make any compromises. What would it look like? Would it be the uber-vibrator the market has been waiting for so long?
It would have to be cyborg that you couldn’t differentiate from a normal human being except that SHE (in my case) would be a nymphomaniac that wouldn’t complain, argue, love football and be the best cook ever! – Oh, and she would have an on/off switch.