During the corona crisis Evolved perseveres with new products and an undaunted attitude
Raymond Houtenbos isn’t the kind of guy to let an international pandemic bring his business to a grinding halt. The entire team at Evolved Novelties is pushing undauntedly through the corona craziness with another handful of new sex toys. As Houtenbos points out, sometimes you have to take the chance that a new idea will succeed. As good design would have it, he correctly predicted that these 6 new products would hit all the right spots for adult businesses and their consumers. The latest additions to the Evolved brand include Black Tie Affair, a rechargeable silicone cock tie; Four Play, a silicone vibrator set with four interchangeable sleeves; Frisky Finger, an ergonomic finger vibe with a uniquely attractive design; Glam Squad, a smooth bullet vibe accompanied by three silicone sleeve options; Put A Ring On It, a dual-stimulator for her with 2 motors,16 functions and a ring shape that hides cleverly beneath the silicone shaft and glides up and down; and Shape Shifter, a butt plug that combines inflation and vibration for a comfortable stretching experience. Houtenbos says his team’s ingenious ideas, though undeniably sex-techy, aren’t rocket science. It all comes down to having a good set of ears and keeping them aimed at consumers’ lips. While others may jerk their knees and shy away from the spotlight in the age of corona, Evolved Novelties’ Head of International Sales lets EAN in on a formula for product launch success that’s (nearly) COVID-proof.
Evolved has been pumping out new products by the truckload (or should I say pallet-load) this year. How does your team come up with so many fresh ideas each month?
Raymond Houtenbos: We do a lot of brainstorming! Our field reps have their ears to the ground when it comes to customer feedback, and that includes the comments people make about what they’re looking for. The ‘Black Tie Affair,’ for example, came out of that type of customer-listening. People like the super soft stretchy materials, but sometimes that’s not enough. They want something that’s completely adjustable so they can customize the feel of it. So we brought that back to the drawing board and sat down to figure out how we could design a cock ring that gives you the flexibility of a drawstring. Then we thought, why not actually make it a type of drawstring! The inspiration to also make it vibrating, remote controlled and completely water submersible came out of the ensuing round-table discussion. The inflatable toys we’re introducing lately came out of trying to solve the issue that people love a filled-up feeling, but they don’t necessarily want a big toy upon entry. Our Shape Shifter is an example of how we came up with a solution that quickly became a best-seller – it’s solving the issues customers talk about in stores, in chat rooms or even direct e-mails to the company. Then I have to admit, sometimes we develop innovation for innovation sake. The ‘Put a Ring on It’ vibe, which is super popular now, came out of the new technology we discovered with our manufacturers where we could have a ring that slides up and down the shaft. We weren’t sure what to do with that new idea, then someone in the company suggested it could accompany a dual vibe with a butterfly clitoral stimulator. At first we thought it might just be too much all at once, but actually people with vaginas love it because it creates a really unusual internal sensation they can’t get from any other toy! Sometimes you have to take a chance that a new idea will work.
Who did the team have in mind when creating these new designs?
Raymond: Our target market is people who love to play, so we’re always thinking about that person who’s regularly checking out new products. It’s not a particular age group, although older people tend to spend more money, so they’ll invest in a more expensive toy that has a lot of bells and whistles. For people on more of a budget, our many-toys-in-one options are all the rage. The two we developed in this category are the “Four Play” and the “Glam Squad.” They’re both powerful USB-rechargeable bullets that come with a variety of silicone sleeves. The shapes and sizes are really fun to play around with, and some are quite unique, like the deeply-cleaved sort of beak shape, and big, chunky upright bunny ears.
Where did you draw inspiration for the colors, shapes and functions included? What about these choices will hit home with your consumer audience?
Raymond: Inspiration for toys comes from a combination of meeting the needs of our customers, pushing the envelope of what they expect, and challenging our manufacturers to come up with exciting new technology. The inflatables are a great example of that! We haven’t had them on the market very long, but they’re already gaining traction because they’re not only something new, they also solve an issue that many people have, that is, bulky entry. So I think what hits home with consumer audiences is when they can see the value of a toy in a few different ways.
Which products from your latest releases have been the best sellers so far?
Raymond: All the products I’ve mentioned so far are best-sellers for us right now, but I should also mention the Frisky Finger. That’s kind of a next-level finger vibe with a wide, thick, flat surface. It’s round, but it also comes to a point for precision. It’s a simple twist on an old classic, and so far people are loving it. The submersible factor always helps too! Toys you can take into the bath with you have that extra allure.
Prior to all the corona shut-downs, you had the opportunity to show off some of these new products for customers. What were their favorites?
Raymond: It’s always fun to show the inflatables! People’s eyes light up when you push the button and the toy swells up like a balloon – it’s just fun to watch. And of course, even more fun to feel. I think that accounts for part of why it’s a best-seller already. People want to know what it’s going to feel like, and there’s only one way to find out, right?
Have you worked with any sexual health or sex toy influencers to promote these new releases? What is your plan for education and promotion?
Raymond: So far we have not been working with influencers, unless you count the incredible staff at stores around the world! They are very well-educated about our toys and technology and we rely on them to get our message across. That’s why we offer free trainings on all our products worldwide.
Looking at the trends that inspired these new toys, what do you think this line says about the future of sex toy design and consumer demands? What are people seeking from the Evolved family of brands right now, and how might that evolve in the future?
Raymond: We’re known as innovators. People look to Evolved for what’s new and what’s exciting when it comes to pairing technology with high concept ideas. It’s that combination of never-seen-before mechanics with elegant design that gets people excited. It’s one thing to have a great idea, but if you can execute it beautifully, then that’s the one people will choose, time and time again. We believe that’s the future of toys – keeping that balance and always moving forward to anticipate new desires.