The adult industry is inching ever closer to the mainstream, and brands are an important catalyst for that development, says Sofie Rockland, the founder and owner of 210th. This statement demonstrates how many layers there are to the discussion about brands in the adult market.
In your opinion, what role do brands play in today’s market for adult products?
Sofie Rockland: In a way, very important as the signature of a brand makes the difference with all the other product suppliers you have in the market. A brand should bring a unique product, story, and experience.
Which experiences and observations is your answer to the previous question based on?
Since I have been in the industry I’ve seen the strong upcoming producers of adult products and that it’s easier to ‘create’ your own branded products, which results in many similar products on the market with different ‘brand’ names.
Why have there been so few brands in the adult market for such a long time? Brands are common in most markets – why has the adult market been the exception?
The adult market is in many ways an exception. For most markets, you can do your research properly before you make the decision to start your brand. In this market there is no information, like the market doesn’t exists.
“A brand should bring a unique product, story, and experience.”
Why are brands important?
According to my opinion brands are important to move the market towards the mainstream industry. Brands are able to tell and spread the story, which is really necessary.
Will brands play a more important role in the future of the adult market? And what would have to change for that to happen?
There are of course several very nice and successful brands in the market and I expect that will be even more difficult in the future to enter the market with another brand.
You describe your product line as an erotic lifestyle brand. How would you define that term? Which criteria make 210th a brand?
We created everything unique for 210th, for example it took me 1,5 year with the supplier to develop the body care line with the ingredients and fragrance as it is. The exposure, the products, the handwriting, the social media, it’s all in the same line and all consistent.
It seems as though ‘brand’ has become a buzzword. Every other product launched in the adult market today is called a brand product. What is your opinion on this development?
This is as well a result of the all the Chinese producers who are offering all the same kind of products in low quantities and they can all ‘brand’ it for you. The market of white labelling is very approachable nowadays and everybody can develop their ‘own branded’ massage oil or toy, but the question remains if they are unique?
What were the biggest stumbling blocks on the way to developing your brand? Which challenges did you have to overcome to establish 210th as a brand in the consumers’ minds?
One of the biggest challenges is to keep your price always and quality at the same level and not to admit to lower the prices with the idea to sell more quantities in a shorter period. A brand is not reducing the retail pricing all the time to compete with the others, a brand is much more than a price. It’s the experience, the service and its story.
“A brand is not reducing the retail pricing all the time to compete with the others, a brand is much more than a price. It’s the experience, the service and its story.”
Social media activity is regarded as crucial nowadays – an effective, economical means of communicating with the consumers. Do you share that opinion?
Yes and no, social media is very effective for brands and essential, though for the erotic industry it’s still very difficult to use it properly. Many consumers are not amused to see the most realistic toys in the timeline of their Instagram, especially not when other people around you notice this as well. It’s again about branding and that’s not only the product itself. Besides this is hard to advertise on various platforms, as it’s not permitted most of the time, so creativity is a must.
210th caters to both, the adult and the mainstream market. Are there big differences between these two markets in terms of brand building?
Yes, both markets need a complete different approach and it’s hard to serve both at the same time. Mainstream market is the market with the taboo and there you need to present you brand completely different. It’s easier to go from the mainstream to the adult market then the other way around.
Looking back at the experiences you’ve made establishing the 210th brand, which types of consumers ask for brands or are loyal to brands? Are most of them experienced consumers or are there also first-time buyers who care about these things?
Short answer, but definitely both.
Do you have some advice for the trade on how to present and promote brands to boost sales?
Stick to your brand, listen to the market, be consequent with the exposure and be different.
Some brick and mortar retailers forgo brands altogether because it’s easy to compare brand prices on the internet, and there will always be an online shop that sells these products at a lower price. Do those retailers have a point or are they making a mistake?
In my opinion they are making a mistake, as I am convinced that the brick and mortal retailers still have enough possibilities to compete with the internet, but you have to and need to be different. Stand out! This is what the consumer requires. Of course, the competition is very strong on the internet and yes there are a lot of consumers who are only making their decision on price, but don’t forget the consumers focused on experience, service, personal attention, advise and much more. Looking at the mainstream market, big online retailers are opening stores…