60 products that are sold in 70 countries across five continents. Those are the bare-bones figures summing up 25 years of pjur, but obviously there is much more to the brand’s success story than could be expressed with mere numbers. Therefore, EAN asked brand founder Alexander Giebel for an interview about a quarter century of pjur.
of pjur – if someone had told you in 1995 that pjur would be a popular brand across
all continents in 2020, would you have believed them?
Giebel: It is a
great blessing that we are (still) here after 25 years (laughs). This is the
result of lots and lots of work, and I want to thank all of our customers who
have stuck with us. Ever since we started selling lubricants in Germany 25
years ago, we have experienced continuous growth, and today, we offer 60
products that are available in more than 70 countries on five continents.
What was your inspiration to produce lubricants back in 1995? Did you know how much dormant potential there was in the erotic industry?
Back then, people usually only used lubricants if there was a problem that needed solving, and they felt very awkward buying these products. I did see that this product category had potential, that it could evolve and become more appealing and attract new audiences. That said, the fact that we actually achieved this level of success is also owed to long-standing collaborations with our partners in the erotic industry.
What are your memories of the erotic industry 25 years ago? Did the market welcome pjur with open arms?
Silicone-based lubricants were ground-breaking at that time! Our products had a pleasant, silky consistency, they had long-lasting lubricating properties, and they didn’t turn sticky. It was that level of quality that won over the trade members and the consumers.
the biggest changes you have seen in this industry over the course of the past
25 years, and what role has pjur played in the overall trajectory of the
has a much wider reach and appeal today, there is more transparency and we have
better quality controls. That is largely due the consumers who have gotten much
more well-informed and discerning in their choices. But it also has to do with
companies such as pjur putting the focus on quality and reliability.
Would you say that pjur is a pioneer when it comes to trends such as sexual health and sexual wellness?
I definitely hope so! Our development know-how enables us to quickly and easily respond to changes in consumer preference. Using feedback from our markets, we have been able to address new trends and be at the forefront of innovation within our industry. For instance, we decided early on not to use any colouring or aromatic substances. We also made skin tolerability a priority very early. It all reflects our mission which is to offer high-quality products to the consumers.
But pjur has also done pioneering work apart from fostering trends. In 2019, pjur group became one of the very first companies in Europe to get certification for the production of medical-grade products in line with the new ISO norm 123485:2016. Until May of 2020, we are going to upgrade all of our lubricants to medical class IIa. This is pjur taking responsibility. This is pjur leading the charge. Ensuring safety, quality, and excellent tolerability is and will continue to be our main priority.
A lubricant is a lubricant. How has pjur managed to innovate and push the boundaries of this clearly defined product segment time and again?
Well, what is the difference between a bottle of wine and a bottle of GOOD wine? Being a leading provider of intimate products, pjur doesn’t compromise when it comes to quality. What we offer our customers are products that guarantee fun and carefree pleasure, improving the quality of their love life and thus their life in general. Let me put it this way: Life is too short to use bad lubricants.
Nowadays, the pjur range includes more than just lubricants. Could you give us an overview of how the product range has changed over the course of the past 25 years?
It all began with a premium quality silicone-based lubricant. This product was absolutely unique at the time, and it laid the foundation for pjur’s success. Putting our growing in-house expertise to good use, we eventually began expanding our product range.
In 2007, we introduced stimulation products under the ‘superhero’ name, and then, in 2010, we launched the pjur med brand for health-conscious consumers, followed by the pjur BACK DOOR line of anal lubricants in 2013 and the innovative skin protection gel pjuractive in 2015. Then, in 2017, we started a revolution in the massage segment with pjur SPA.
You have always emphasised the brand aspect with pjur – even 25 years ago, when no one really cared about brands in the erotic industry. Why this strategy?
A brand is an expression of personality, defined by certain values. In the case of pjur, these values are innovation, quality, reliability. I believe it is much easier to stick out from the crowded marketplace we see today if you have a positive, likeable brand that represents clearly readable values. Brands were already relevant 25 years ago – but now, they are essential if you want to thrive in the consumer market.
“A brand is an expression of personality, defined by certain values. In the case of pjur, these values are innovation, quality, reliability.”
As you mentioned, the market is flooded with products. Would you say that pjur’s continuing success in this overcrowded field is a result of your strategy?
Yes, I definitely would! With all the new products that are thrown onto the market every day, you benefit from being a long-standing brand that people trust. I am very happy we started investing in brand-building early on, only offering products that had undergone thorough testing and certification.
Today, pjur is a beloved brand on all continents, which begs the question: Is there a secret formula to your success? Which strategies and philosophies have taken pjur to the top?
I’d say there are two pillars of our success. Firstly, we have a vision that guides the company on its path. That vision is to improve the love and life quality of people around the world. It is a great motivation, and it inspires us. Secondly, we always feel the need to innovate. We love to try new things and create new ideas. And that need is not limited to our products, but it also motivates us to open up new markets and cater to new audiences.
25 years of pjur … Looking back, what are the biggest milestones in the history of the company? What are your fondest memories? And are there also moments you’d rather forget?
There are a lot of fond memories (ponders briefly). I really like thinking back to the day I signed the lease agreement on< our first office. That was a great feeling! Another wonderful memory was the first time I boarded a plane to the US to get new business partners on board. Up until then, I had only flown to the States to go on vacation. That was an exciting change of pace.
Let’s turn to the present. What is your assessment of the erotic market today? Where do we stand after all these years of change and growth?
Consumers today are much more open – and much more knowledgeable – when it comes to erotic products, but they are also much more demanding. I consider this a highly positive development, after all sexuality is an important aspect of human life. And of course, it is also great to see the erotic market opening up and paying more attention to quality and transparency.
This industry has been held back by the prejudice of being ‘cheap and unregulated’ far too long. It is time to put the focus on certified quality and weed out the remaining black sheep.
“It is time to put the focus on certified quality and weed out the remaining black sheep.”
Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of pjur? Where do you want to see the company in ten or twenty years’ time?
The vision is the same it has always been: improving people’s sex life. We will continue to be a strong, reliable brand offering safe, high-quality products. So, I am confident that we will still be making consumers happy in another 25 years’ time?
How will you celebrate the 25th birthday of pjur, and what can clients and consumers look forward to in your anniversary year?
2020 is a big anniversary year, so celebrations are in order. For instance, the pjur Wheel of Fortune will return at the big trade shows in America, Australia, Asia, and Europe, and our clients can look forward to little pjur treats. But we also have something for the consumers: the pjur Mini Collection, a limited edition of four pjur classics (10ml bottles) that will be available in stores from June 2020. This collection of four classics is the ideal way to either give pjur a try or to rediscover products within our range. And obviously, they also make for a terrific gift.
To further celebrate our anniversary, we have started a unique consumer survey, called ‘pjur&you.’ It is a way for pjur users to share their wishes, their suggestions, and their ideas for new innovations. And who knows, maybe your input will come to life in our next product.
If Hollywood were to make a movie about the history of pjur, which actor would you like to see in the role of Alexander Giebel?
Interesting question! I think, instead of being played by someone, I’d rather start taking acting lessons myself (laughs)!