With its modern corporate structures and a selection of popular brands, Swedish distributor Basic Instinct has achieved continuous growth throughout the past few years. EAN had the opportunity to talk with Sophia Nystrand, CEO of Basic Instinct, about the company’s success and the ongoing digitisation of the market. Of course, we also touch upon Sweden’s special policy in the face of coronavirus and its effects on the sex toy business.
Congratulations on the new offices in the old town of Stockholm! So, Basic Instinct is growing even during the corona crisis?
Sophia Nystrand: Yes, it’s an amazing spot. Creative, light, and with lots of cool tech companies around. I guess we are one of the companies that has grown despite of the corona crisis.
When you started your company, you were on your own. How is Basic Instinct structured today?
Sophia: I am still the sole owner of the company and CEO. It has been beneficial to be able to make fast decisions regarding strategic moves and business developments.
What brands does Basic Instinct sell at the moment? And what criteria come into play when you look for new brands to add to your assortment?
Sophia: Elvie Trainer, B Swish, Satisfyer, Tickler, Rianne S, Tenga/Iroha, Laid, Viamax, and Swede. We choose brands based on long-term partnerships, quality assurance, our customers’ demands, popularity, and some intuition.
Let’s talk about growth. Over the years, there’s only been one way for you, and that was up. What is the reason for this success?
Sophia: I think one of the key reasons is again the ability to make fast decisions combined with a very high service level, advanced digital solutions, and a focus on offering the best products for our customers.
Many people have said that the distribution business is not fit for the future. How do you respond to such statements? Why does it make sense for manufacturers and retailers to work with you as a distributor?
Sophia: We are a new kind of online distribution company with a sales force, in-house content management, and we are definitely experts of the Nordic markets.
It is undeniable that today’s distribution business has different requirements, challenges, etc. than it did years ago. What are the most significant differences in your work as a distributor now compared to the time when Basic Instinct was founded?
Sophia: The digitisation! I have one person working with master data management, and we are working hard nowadays, gathering all sorts of data from our suppliers to be able to launch new products for our mainstream customers.
Basic Instinct is not just active in the traditional adult market, but also in the mainstream market. To what extent have these two markets already merged?
Sophia: I think mainstream retailers now go for more advanced stuff in their Sex & Wellbeing categories, and the adult retailers try to be more ‘house-trained’ (as we say in Swedish). So, I guess they will soon meet in the middle.
The sex toy market seems to be benefiting from the corona pandemic – do you agree with this statement? If so, what do you see as the reasons for this development?
Sophia: The online business has definitively increased during the pandemic, and older people started to be online more, discovering sex & wellbeing. Also, the lack of activities makes people think more about sex, and they certainly have more time to explore.
Is this a development that will have a positive impact on the sex toy market in the long term or is the high-demand only temporary in nature?
Sophia: I am sure we have reached lots of new target groups so demand will continue to be strong, but it will stabilise.
Sweden opted for a ‘special approach’ during the corona crisis, with no shutdowns or similar measures. Are bricks and mortar retailers doing well then, or have they still lost customers to e-commerce? Is the fear in people’s minds perhaps causing many to avoid bricks and mortar stores, even if they are open?
Sophia: Sweden (still) has a lot of restrictions, but we haven’t had lockdowns. People have been recommended to stay at home, not to for shopping unless it’s necessary, and only to socialize with the ones you live with, etc. This has absolutely affected the bricks and mortar retail business. The customers have chosen to buy online instead of going to stores, so if you don’t have an online shop, it’s been very tough to manage the situation.