Clean, financially strong, liberal, and value-oriented: Throughout the past few decades, Singapore has become one of the wealthiest cities in the world. In 2012, Durio joined the ranks of the city state’s businesses – a wholesaler specialising in adult products. In our EAN interview, the company’s Marketing Director, James Wong, tells us more about Durio and their decision to focus wholly on the online segment.
Durio is a distributor for erotic products in Singapore. Since when have you been active in the market and what made you start this company?
Jason Wong: We have been in the market since 2012. At that time, a few big stores dominated regional markets. Items were ridiculously priced, there was an extremely large gap in prices because product choices and information were not readily available to the consumers.
We took on an “online – only” model to reduce our cost and pass on the savings to the consumers. Fortunately, this model worked out really well for us.
Are you selling exclusively in Singapore or also beyond the borders of the city state?
Till date, our clients are all based in Asia. This is largely due to the proximity in preferences and sizes.
Our stronghold is in the Southeast Asian market. We have many clients from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, but we also have many from other parts of Asia such as Taiwan and India.
Before we talk more about your company, could you tell us a bit about your home market? Generally speaking, what sets Singapore apart from other markets when it comes to buying sex toys, lubes etc.?
Singapore’s market is a nice fusion of western and eastern likings.
How open is the Singaporean society when it comes to topics like sex and eroticism?
While it’s not a common that people discuss these topics openly in public, Singaporeans are generally liberal.
What can you tell us about the legal situation? Can anybody who wants to simply open a shop and sell erotic goods?
The Singaporean government did not make it completely clear whether or not it is legal, but the authorities did set aside zones where “sex shops” can be considered for use.
What are the current trends when it comes to erotic products? Is there a certain type of product or a brand which is in high demand?
Our regional market appreciates mid to high-end brands such as Pipedream, Calexotics, JOPEN, JimmyJane and Satisfyer. They like the “clean-look” of these brands and their great value for money price points. Japanese porn star brands such as EXE and KMP are also a hit in our regional markets.
If you had to pick one aspect, what would you say sets Durio apart from its competitors?
We do not have a minimum order quantity for our clients, that means they can order as little as one item per product. Our clients love this because it gives them more leeway to go broad and try out other items. We adopt a very lean “online-only” model. Because we do not have physical premises, our costs are kept at their lowest. We then pass these cost savings on to our clients.
How do you choose which products and brands you offer?
We follow the market. We listen to feedback from our clients and their consumers. Product safety is our number one priority. The look and touch of a product also has to be great for us to consider offering it to our clients. Of course, the manufacturing quality of the products is a huge consideration for us too, because as distributors, we will also serve as a warranty provider to our retailers.
“We follow the market. We listen to feedback from our clients and their consumers. Product safety is our number one priority.”
Which role do brands play in the erotic market in Singapore? Do the consumers recognise brand names and ask for a specific product?
Yes, our regional markets are actually very well-informed when it comes to choosing sex toys. Some fans even chase new releases and pre-order them.
Does Durio offer its own brands besides third-party brands or do you plan to do so in the future?
No, we do not. At this moment, we are very focused on delivering the highest value as a distributor to brands, and a one-stop mega distribution centre to our wholesale clients.
What support do you offer to your customers regarding POS materials for brick and mortar businesses or support for online shops?
We offer POS display materials for our brick and mortar customers and marketing banner designs for our online customers as part of our value add.
What can you tell us about Durio’s plans for the future? Where do you see the company in five years?
The regional market is growing fast, with many of our clients doing very well. Their well-being translates into ours and we are very happy about it. We foresee that the Asian market will continue its growth as Asian consumers’ mindset becomes more liberal by the day.
As we continue to forge new partnerships with brands, we are also constantly on the lookout for retailers who are interested in buying our products.
The goal we set for ourselves is out to grow beyond the region into an international distribution business.