2018 was undoubtedly an eventful year for Bathmate, but as Tim Brown explains in our interview, all the changes that were implemented led to the desired results, and therefore, it was also this a highly successful year for the British brand. And what about the new year? Tim promises exciting innovations in the penis pump segment for 2019, and when asked how Brexit might affect the company’s positive development, he emphasises that Bathmate is well-prepared for all the potential effects that Brexit might have on the brand.
Let’s start with a quick review: How was the year 2018 from the viewpoint of Bathmate? Tim Brown: 2018 was a great year for Bathmate with sales going from strength to strength, we sold to more people in more countries than we have ever done. We had double digit growth for the 7th year in a row with turnover and operating profits also reaching new highs. All in all, 2018 couldn’t have been much better.
There were some changes in 2018 – including a rebranding, new colleagues, expanding the portfolio into a new product category, new products… did all of this lead to the desired results?
The short answer is yes. Let’s start with the rebrand. This really did have to be done. Trying to explain the range was very difficult for bricks and mortar retail, the rebrand has brought much needed clarity to the pump range and has been universally praised and welcomed by our resellers. We are really pleased with the feedback. Kerri Middleton joined Bathmate and has been another huge success. I’ve known Kerri for a number of years, I know how well regarded she is in the industry and I have been delighted with the skill set she has bought to the business.
Kerri has worked very hard and the fruit of her labours will be realised early in the new year, with her first two new product designs being launched at ANME in January. Moving on to the new products category, the Vibe and Hydrovibe have both outsold expectations. That being said the products are excellent so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised by the excellent sales figures.
The Vibe is the engine for the next generation of Bathmate products, of which the Hydrovibe was the first. In late January we should be ready to launch the second, another one of Kerri’s designs. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the market reacts to the new products. The new anal toy cleaner (my idea!) – another world’s first – has also done very well, and as it’s a consumable, repeat orders have been great.
What were the highlights for Bathmate in 2018?
I have to say Kerri joining the business, and the success of the rebrand.
Your main activities are undoubtedly revolving around penis pumps. What has happened in this product category in 2018? Is the competition getting bigger and bigger?
We launched another new pump at eroFame, the Hydroxtreme7 Wide Boy, driven by consumer demand. The original Wide Boy sold well and Bathmates customer care desk was constantly being asked when the Xtreme version would be available and as always, we try and provide what the market wants. The Hydroxtreme7 Wide Boy has done really well since launch and we expect sales to continue at a high level.
With every successful product there are always high levels of competition, however, due to the strength of our Intellectual Property Rights and due to spending vast sums of money protecting it we manage to control counterfeits and the illegal copies.
How important is it that consumers perceive Bathmate as a brand in this context? Will this factor be even more important in the future?
Being perceived as a brand is vitally important, I mean really vital. Just think about Rolex, it’s a watch that tells the time and that’s all it does, it doesn’t count steps, it doesn’t tell you when you have an email, it doesn’t have GPS and yet it is sold all over world at very high prices… why? Brand strength. When you buy a Rolex, you are buying more than a watch you are buying a status symbol, a perception of success, a show of wealth.
As such people’s belief is that a Rolex wearer is successful and they aspire to be the same… that really is brand strength. Although I can’t quite put Bathmate in the same league as Rolex I can say that people buy Bathmate because they know we are the best penis pump manufacturer on the planet, they buy Bathmate because we manufacture the products using the best materials, and ultimately people buy Bathmate because they know our products work.
“Being perceived as a brand is vitally important, I mean really vital.”
What are the plans for 2019 regarding penis pumps at Bathmate?
Now my friend that is a secret! We have several new developments which will take the pumps in a new and very exciting direction…but you will have to wait and see.
Isn’t there a risk of watering down your brand if you juggle too many balls at once?
That’s a good question, let me talk about another brand, Adidas. What was the first product Adidas brought to market? Unsurprisingly enough it was a sports shoe made by Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler in his mother’s scullery in Herzogenaurach, Germany. What do Adidas manufacture now? T-shirts, football boots, Cricket equipment, watches, shorts, boxing gloves, skiing equipment… the list goes on. Has the divergence form sports shoes weakened or strengthened the brand? For my 2 cents worth this has strengthened the brand and taken it to new highs.
I believe as Bathmate bring more and more products to the market in associated fields we can go from strength to strength in, initially adult toys, and with the current development plans also in to the mainstream markets, maybe one day Rolex and Bathmate will be said in the same sentence and have same perception of gravitas but in different fields.
Brexit is up – whatever form it may ultimately take. How do you prepare as a British company? Are you worried that Brexit will negatively affect your business?
Brexit may or may not be a challenge. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be sure we will end up leaving Europe, there may be a Norway plus deal, there may be another referendum, and if there is I think people will vote to stay. I suppose the worst-case scenario is that there is no deal and we go on World Trade Tariffs. That would be bad for the UK but worse for Europe, think BMW, Audi, Mercedes all being between 5% and 10% more expensive!
The cost of raw materials to manufacture Bathmates might change, also the speed at which the raw materials clear customs may also change. The truth, nobody, as of today really knows what will happen. That being the case we continue, we make sure we have additional stocks of raw materials and we make sure we have plenty of manufactured product ready to ship. I think there are some rough seas ahead for anyone who only trades with Europe, but we sell in 120 countries around the world so hopefully the rough sea will only be a ripple on a calm lake for us.