The womanizer has been one of the most talked-about sex toys of the past years, and its international success story continues at full steam, as Michael Lenke, the inventor of the womanizer and head of epi24 GmbH, tells us in our interview. He also told us about a series of new products that will be hitting the market in the upcoming months, the first of them being the womanizer PRO40, a more affordable version of the top-seller, followed by three other innovations that are going to debut at eroFame.
Michael, you said there is a revolution in the adult market. How is it coming along? Do you already see any major changes?
Michael Lenke: The revolution is in full swing, and it has already produced the first results. The womanizer is the global number one adult product when it comes to price stability. The price of the womanizer is perfectly stable in more than 40 countries, and the retailers are happy about their profit margins. All the big retailers we are working with commend us on our strategy.
How do you feel about the current state of product development in the adult market?
The market for innovative adult toys continues to expand.
Are you disappointed that many trade members still focus on vibration instead of giving other forms of stimulation a shot?
That’s not really how I see it. I feel that more and more trade members embrace the modern womanizer technology. All the big online e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers sell the womanizer.
Many sex toys nowadays are based on modern tech – teledildonics, virtual reality, wearables, and interactive products are on the rise. Do you see long-term potential in this trend?
My personal opinion on this development is: These trends won’t have any real impact outside of small niche markets. Most developments in this field can be described as gimmickry, and they are still held back by lots of problems which makes them frustrating for the users.
Let’s talk about the womanizer. This product began its meteoric rise in 2014, now we’re halfway through 2016. Could you sum up the past two years of womanizer from your point of view?
It is amazing how successful the womanizer has turned out to be! It is available in more than 40 countries. You can get it at all major European and American online shops, and in the leading brick and mortar stores, it is the best-selling sex toy for women. In the American market, there is so much demand we have trouble keeping up. The success of the womanizer is truly breath-taking. 95% of all the big distributors and retailers are already selling our product. The womanizer has also been a tremendous success in China these past two months, ever since the country’s biggest retail company – running more than 1,200 sex shops and a big internet portal – picked up the product. If projections hold, we’ll be selling more womanizers in Asia than we do in Europe in 2017/2018. 18 months after its launch, womanizer sales have already generated a nine-digit sum in turnover. Such a thing is unheard of in the adult market.
Which target audience is the womanizer made for? Today, most producers seem to be after couples – is that also the group you want to appeal to?
Our analyses show that we have 45% female buyers, 35% couples, and 20% men (who buy the toy as a gift for their wife or girlfriend). The womanizer has already achieved cult status among many couples.
Now, you launch a less expensive version of the womanizer. Why did you decide to take that step? Is the price of the original womanizer too high for many consumers?
This decision makes perfect sense from a marketing point of view. We want to appeal to the mass market with this more affordable version (€99). Many consumers don’t want to spend more than €99 for an adult product. So that’s why we introduce this new model. However, we also have something new for the high-end market. In October, we are going to present a sensational new addition to the womanizer range at eroFame (this product will retail at €229). The high-end segment for sex toys is going to see a lot of growth in markets such as Germany or the US.
Does this low-price version of the womanizer still offer a favourable margin for the trade?
Of course, this new model will offer an interesting profit margin for wholesalers and retailers, just like all womanizer products. We also expect this product to sell large quantities, so that’ll be even more money in the trade members’ coffers
Since we’re on the topic: Would you say that the womanizer’s profit margin has played a big role in the success of the product?
Yes, that’s true. The stable margin of the womanizer has played a role in its success. But the most important factor was and is the innovative womanizer technology. That’s what truly made this product.
“The womanizer is the number one adult product when it comes to price stability.“
Last year, you used eroFame to present your products and inventions. What do you have in store for this year’s show? What can the trade look forward to? Will there be more interesting products?
This year, we have a total of three new products! Also, all womanizer products will be 100% water-tight (IPX7) as of October so the users can also experience breath-taking pleasure under water from then on. As for the new products, they will be unique in their own way, and they are going to be a shot in the arm of the industry. Our company expects turnover to go up by more than 100% as a result of these three new releases! As a matter of fact, 70% of the quantities we can produce until the end of 2016 are already sold.
What are your plans for the future of the womainzer product line? Are there things you want to optimise about the original model? Are there gaps in the market you want to fill or certain audiences you want to win over?
We will continue optimising our products. And of course, there are also a few gaps and several audiences we want to conquer with our new products.
It is not surprising that several ˈcomparableˈ or ˈsimilarˈ products have already popped up. How do you feel about this development?
We’re not surprised, either! If you have a successful product, there will always be people trying to ride on your coat-tails and get a piece of the pie by emulating your product. A few people who went too far and outright copied the womanizer already got a bloody nose because we take every legal step to prosecute copyright infringements. We have several international copyrights for the womanizer. It has become a valuable international brand, and we aim to protect it.
Is the womanizer now available on all continents?
Yes, you can get the womanizer products on all continents.
How successful is your invention outside of Europe? For instance, is the womanizer as popular in Australia or in South America as it is here?
The womanizer is an international success. In several countries, including Australia, it is the best-selling lifestyle adult toy right now. It won an award for that earlier this year.
In Europe, you work with Orion Wholesale as your exclusive distributor, while in the US, you started your own affiliated company to get the womanizer to the retailers. Why these two different strategies?
We picked ORION wholesale in Europe, because they are simply the biggest and best wholesaler here. ORION wholesale carries roughly 10,000 products, and the womanizer is the biggest top-seller among them – plus, it’s also the product with the biggest revenue share. In the US, there is no distributor of this size, so we decided to start an affiliated company in San Francisco. After just one year in business, this company has already become bigger and more successful than many comparable companies that have been around for 10 years. Our decision was 100% spot-on. And to cater to the Pacific markets such as China, Australia, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia, we have a subsidiary in Hong Kong. Within just 18 months, we have turned womanizer into an international brand with breath-taking growth rates across the globe.