Ten years ago, a product debuted in Las Vegas that would go on to change the established order of things in the adult market. Roughly half a year later, this innovation also launched in Europe, making it onto the cover of EAN’s 2008 September issue. Of course, we are talking about We-Vibe. Frank Ferrari, the President of Standard Innovation, and EAN back at a decade of We-Vibe. We talk about the changes in the industry that were set into motion when the product launched in April 2008, and that still dominate the market today. And of course, we also talk about the special We-Vibe collection that will hit shelves in celebration of the anniversary.
Ten years ago, you launched your first product — did you expect that it would have such an impact? Frank Ferrari: Who could have imagined that We-Vibe, the very first couples vibrator, would go on to be enjoyed by millions of couples around the world? That it would become app-enabled, so couples could play together even when they’re apart? And that it would inspire a whole line of leading premium pleasure products and an industry-leading brand?
It’s been an amazing ride for all of us at We-Vibe — and for our loyal, dedicated customers. By creating the first couples vibrator and staying committed to innovative, high-quality, body-safe and eco-friendly design, We-Vibe has helped shape the global adult pleasure product industry.
How many units of the first We-Vibe have you sold since launch?
We’ve sold nearly five million We-Vibe couples vibrators to couples in more than 50 countries all over the world.
When we ask industry members about products that really left a mark on the industry, We-Vibe is one of the go-to answers. How does it feel to have laid the foundation for a product category that basically didn’t exist before – couples’ toys?
We’re incredibly proud that We-Vibe was the first and is still the best couples vibrator on the market and that our single product created a whole new category for retailers. We recently spoke to a number of early supporters and asked them to reflect on the 2008 We-Vibe launch — the phrase that kept coming up was, ‘Game Changer.’ It’s very gratifying to hear that ten years later.
And we continue to be honoured with awards naming our products the best, most innovative and best-selling pleasure products and sex toys on the market. This year, our founders, Bruce and Melody Murison won an XBIZ Legacy Award, and Bruce was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame. It’s been an amazing ten years of connecting couples with innovative products for shared pleasure. Best of all, though, we get rave reviews from our customers — that is what’s truly rewarding.
“It only took 30 seconds to conceive the idea and 5 years to perfect it” – this is a quote from an EAN interview from September 2008. When and how did you conceive of the idea?
Bruce and Melody Murison, our founders, had been working in the semiconductor manufacturing industry when the tech crash hit in the early 2000s. Bruce realised his job was about to vaporise. But he managed to see that as an opportunity: He had been inventing since his early teens — he had probably researched 20 inventions up to that point — and had always dreamed of building his own company and taking a product to market. Here was his chance. He and Melody came up with the idea of a vibrator that couples could use together. When he did further research, he found that the adult market was poised and waiting for innovation and advanced design. His vision was to create a unique product and to bring high-quality, and high-tech advanced manufacturing practices to the industry.
Looking back at those five years of development, what were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
That was certainly a challenging time for Bruce and Melody. They mortgaged the house, took out a line of credit, and asked close family and friends to invest — so they wanted to make sure We-Vibe was the best it could be. Bruce’s work included carving the anatomically correct shape, creating miniature printed circuit boards, coming up with We-Vibe’s unique internal backbone, and developing custom-designed motors to power it.
Melody took on responsibility for marketing, packaging, magazine ads, and running trade show booths — and even getting her mother to personally plug in and test all 20,000 chargers in their first order. They risked everything they had. Starting as a small company with little money, they had to build the infrastructure, develop systems, and build a strong team. Being at the first show in Las Vegas where they launched We-Vibe in 2008, with everything on the line, was nerve-wracking. But it was also thrilling — even at that most difficult point in our history, there was a sense of euphoria about this amazing new pleasure product.
What was your impression of the vibrator market back then?
When Bruce did his initial research, what he saw was an industry that was short on innovation and gave little thought to the health of its customers. As far as he could tell, there hadn’t been any major changes in design or materials for a very long time. Many of the products on the market were poorly made and potentially toxic. So he saw the opportunity to enter the market with a product that would be made of safer materials, contain high-tech electronics, be manufactured using the most advanced methods, and look beautiful. And, he saw that there was nothing on the market that was targeting couples.
You went all-in, pretty much putting all your eggs in one basket. Were there ever any doubts that things would pan out?
Bruce and Melody certainly had a lot riding on We-Vibe. But they believed in the product, and they worked hard to do everything they could to make their dream a reality. And right from the beginning, the response was astoundingly positive and supportive. People loved it. They loved the idea of a couples’ device. They loved the shape. They loved our branding and clean, simple packaging.
The first 20,000 sold out in only six weeks! We-Vibe immediately started winning accolades and awards: just six months after that show in Las Vegas, We-Vibe was launched in Europe, winning the Most Innovative Product Award at the Venus Berlin adult product show. It was also crowned Hot Product of the Year and Best Adult Product and was invited to be in gift bags at the Academy Awards.
Having such a unique innovation under your belt, doesn’t that also create a lot of pressure because everybody expects the follow-up to be just as revolutionary. Was We-Vibe maybe a blessing and a curse in that regard?
You’re right — expectations were high. But we also realised we were on to a great thing. The launch of the original We-Vibe ten years ago in Las Vegas set the standard for our commitment to innovation, quality, excellence and, of course, fun — a standard we have stayed dedicated to ever since. We-Vibe is dedicated to creating innovative, beautiful, high-quality products that connect couples for shared pleasure.
“We-Vibe is dedicated to creating innovative, beautiful, high-quality products that connect couples for shared pleasure.”
When EAN asked you about your future goals in said 2008 interview, the answer was: “Standard Innovation Corporation will become known throughout the world as an innovative company meeting the needs of the customer.” So, mission accomplished?
So far, yes. But we’re still moving forward! Over the past ten years, we’ve expanded our product line, offering couples more possibilities for pleasure and reasons to choose the We-Vibe brand. We’ve created a purposeful line of beautifully designed, high-quality clitoral and G-spot vibrators and vibrating plugs and penis rings — all with innovation and unique features. In the past several months alone, we’ve launched Bloom, Gala, Jive, and Match. Bloom is a progressive weight set of vibrating Kegel balls that offer women a fun way to strengthen their PC muscles to help achieve stronger orgasms.
Jive is a new vibrating egg with Bluetooth. As we saw a growing demand for couples wanting the freedom to play on the go, at the end of 2017, we launched Jive, a wearable G-spot stimulator that can be controlled via the We-Connect app, giving couples a new level of liberation that comes with openly discussing their wants and desires with their partner. Jive has already won the award for Best Erotic Wearable from EAN!
Gala is another unique product by We-Vibe: a dual-motor clitoral vibrator with two flexible pleasure tips to surround erogenous zones with intense sensations. Gala also works with the We-Connect app for independent motor control and to allow a partner to join in the fun.
And Match is a great addition to the We-Vibe couples vibrator line: a mid-priced, premium couples vibrator, positioned in the We-Vibe couples vibrator line between the flagship We-Vibe Sync and the entry-level We-Vibe Unite. Like Sync and Unite, Match is worn during sex to provide dual stimulation to the G-spot and clitoris. Match offers couples some of the most sought after features such as rumbly, dual-motor stimulation and a remote with intensity control.
The We-Vibe brand is known all over the world. What were the core values of the brand in 2008, and what are they today?
We-Vibe has stayed dedicated to its core brand — that of creating innovative, beautiful, high-quality products that connect couples for shared pleasure. Just as Bruce spent years researching and perfecting the original We-Vibe, we continue to rely on ongoing leading-edge research and development, as well as listening to our customers. Our customers know they can rely on the quality of our products and all the opportunities these products provide for enhancing pleasure and intimacy.
“We-Vibe has stayed dedicated to its core brand — that of creating innovative, beautiful, high-quality products that connect couples for shared pleasure.”
How hard is it to stay true to your core values when you add new products to your brand? After all, your range has grown to include cock rings, plugs, etc. …
It’s by staying true to our core values that we have been able to create products like penis rings and anal plugs that are aesthetically pleasing and inviting, as well as being designed and manufactured to high standards, and safe to use. Our customers know they can rely on the quality of our products and all the opportunities these products provide for enhancing pleasure and intimacy.
The market has obviously changed quite a bit over the course of the past decade. How would you describe the current situation?
You’re right — over the past ten years, the social acceptance of sex toys has soared. Bruce and Melody were fortunate that they started We-Vibe during a cultural shift when the conversation about sex toys was changing, and retail stores were becoming more welcoming to couples. More and more companies are now also using body-safe materials and focusing on both functional and aesthetic design. As the industry matures, we are seeing a shift from product marketing to lifestyle branding. More brands are using consumer research and using those insights to guide their direction.
Now we are just beginning to see what the internet of things can bring to the industry. All of this means that brands are investing heavily in research and development and are taking steps to protect their intellectual property. This is a healthy development for the industry and will ensure that companies continue to invest in innovation.
Sex toys and modern technology are becoming more and more aligned; however, many people argue that most of these products don’t offer an added value to the consumers. Do you agree with this criticism?
We sure get a lot of feedback that suggests otherwise. The key is to use technology in a way that enhances pleasure and intimacy. Take We-Vibe Sync, our flagship couples vibrator. Not only is it app-enabled so couples can use the free We-Connect app to connect and play from anywhere in the world, but Sync’s exclusive We-Connect vibration modes include Beat mode, to vibe to the rhythm of your favourite music, and Touch mode, which allows real-time touchscreen control.
Inclusion is a hotly debated topic in today’s sex toy market. Will marketing terms such as ‘women-friendly’ or ‘couples-friendly’ soon be confined to the dustbin?
Inclusion is something we all need to do more to support, in everything we do, every day. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Part of being inclusive means being aware of the language we use and the effects it can have. At We-Vibe, we’ll keep listening to our customers. We believe we can be dedicated to enhancing pleasure and intimacy for couples using an inclusive definition of the word ‘couple.’
Will products such as womanizer, Satisfyer, Sona, etc. push traditional vibration technology to the sidelines, or are they just introducing a new facet, adding more diversity to the product range?
At We-Vibe, it’s been our experience that expanding our product line has only added to all the possibilities for intimate pleasure.
You announced that there would be an anniversary collection to celebrate 10 years of We-Vibe. Please, tell us more about that.
We wanted to mark our 10th anniversary by offering customers something special that celebrates We-Vibe’s commitment to connecting couples. For many couples, a We-Vibe couples vibrator was their first sex toy purchased together. And when the small yet mighty Tango came on the market, its deep rumbling vibrations were a revelation to many women, quickly becoming their ‘go to’ vibrator while also enhancing couples play in all kinds of ways. That’s why the We-Vibe Anniversary Collection includes a limited-edition We-Vibe Sync and an updated Tango, plus an exclusive new play case.
We’ve also been listening to our customers, who have told us they would love a collection of premium products they can take on the go. This request led to the development of the new play case that discreetly holds and charges both products together, so they’re ready for fun at all times. And in a nod to the original We-Vibe couples vibrator, in the Anniversary Collection Sync and Tango come in a limited-edition iridescent, cosmic purple that celebrates our customers’ pursuit of passion.
By offering two of our best-selling products together, we’re showcasing the height of our innovation and excellence. The Anniversary Collection is inspired by the original We-Vibe and its iconic sunglass case that was launched in Las Vegas in 2008. It was the first, the original, and it’s still the best on the market.
Of course, over the past ten years, We-Vibe has continued to use state-of-the-art techniques and tools to take our products to new heights, setting new industry standards for ergonomic design and high performance while remaining eco-friendly and body-safe.
That means the We-Vibe Sync, our flagship couples vibrator, is now customisable to fit unique body shapes: the clitoral and G-spot stimulators can be adjusted to target pleasure. And with the free We-Connect app, couples can connect and play from anywhere in the world. Sync’s exclusive We-Connect vibration modes include the aforementioned Beat and Touch modes.
Tango has always been the most powerful mini-vibe. Its tapered tip delivers deep rumbly vibrations with pinpoint focus, while the flat edge is perfect for all-over massage. And now the updated Tango includes improvements to its control button, battery, and charging.
Apart from this special anniversary collection, what else do you have planned to celebrate this big birthday?
We will have a number of events around the world. First, we’re celebrating in Las Vegas, where We-Vibe was launched in April 2008. We will host an evening pool party during the Altitude Lingerie Show in April. In June we will host a party for family, friends and some of our early supporters in our hometown, Ottawa. And finally, in October at eroFame, we will sponsor the Octoberfest party to celebrate with our European and international partners.