“Paris is still the city of love!”

You can’t argue with success, and if a concept works, it works. Dollhouse have been successful for almost 13 years, and the concept of the retail store, situated right in the heart of Paris, definitively works. Delphine Gaudy tells us how the team have managed to stay on top of their game and how the consumers and products of Dollhouse have changed over the course of time.

It has been three years since we last spoke. Back then, Dollhouse was celebrating its ten-year anniversary. What has happened over the course of the past three years?
Delphine Gaudy: We are happy to note that there are still people out there who continue to discover our boutique and our way of looking at the self-pleasure industry

A feminine store that combines service, quality products, atmosphere, and shopping experience in a way appealing to any consumer, no matter their age or sexual preference – is that still the concept you are focusing on?
It works! From the beginning till the end! We opened the shop with this idea in mind and this is the spirit of Dollhouse.

Have the consumers become more accepting of adult products throughout the last three years, and has their openness and willingness to talk about sexuality, etc. grown?
Paris is still the city of love! We are more open and more comfortable with the topic of sensuality.

In our interview in 2015, you said that the retail trade had to accept that the majority of consumers don’t want to use sex toys, and that the trade shouldn’t try to make it look like people had to use sex toys to feel better. Doesn’t that contradict the general sentiment in the industry that sex toys are becoming more mainstream?
Even so, making a customer feel uncomfortable about not using a sex toy is not the way to get them to eventually use one at all.

What can you tell us about the current state of consumer spending? How quickly and freely are the French reaching for their wallets, and which factors have the biggest impact on their purchasing decisions?
With the increase in price due to their being more high-tech and more luxurious, they have become less of an impulse buy, customers take more time to consider their purchase.

Three years ago, you predicted that high-tech sex toys would dominate the market – which is exactly what happened. Is sex tech also a big element of Dollhouse’s product range today? And how popular are toys that create stimulation through pressure waves or similar techniques instead of conventional vibration?
Almost half of the products we sell come with an application option and we do see an increase in the popularity of pressure wave products versus conventional vibration products.

The discussion about brands in the adult market never stops. Do you feel that your customers are asking for specific brands more often than they did in the past?
Not necessarily.

Apart from your brick and mortar store, you also have an online shop. How has the balance between the two shifted throughout the past years? Is the online shop growing while the walk-in store stagnates?
Our physical shop remains the main source of our business given the high rate of competition with internet sales.

The big e-commerce gold rush is over, and while the potential for growth in this segment seems to be endless, we now have a handful of dominating players who make life harder for everybody else. What is your take on this situation?
I believe e-commerce requires a completely different mind-set and of course a different marketing strategy. These large players invest a lot of money in advertising and employees that are more tech-savvy than industry savvy.

How would you describe the general situation in the French retail market? What challenges are the adult retailers in France faced with nowadays? Three years ago, you said the French retail trade was aligning more and more with the needs and wishes of the consumers? Has this development continued? What is the situation today?
We will always be aligning with the needs of our customers as they change but be as I mentioned earlier, price increases are always a challenge. We need strong selling skills to close a sale.

Faced with online competition on one side and, on the other side, faced with the fact that sex toys are ultimately luxury items and not basic necessities, what potential do you see for the adult brick and mortar trade? What do you predict for the future of walk-in stores in this business?
When we created our concept, we included luxury lingerie in our product mix, in fact half of our store is dedicated to high-end lingerie. And there will always, always be customers who prefer the personal service provided by a quality brick and mortar store!