‘Join the Pleasure Revolution’ – that is the slogan of Canadian company Zumio Inc. If you look at the unique features of their product, which goes by the same name and had its premiere at eroFame last month, where it turned quite a few heads, well, then you’ll see that this slogan is quite fitting. Zumio is unique, and it sticks out of the crowd of comparable products because it does not vibrate in the traditional sense. Instead, it is based on innovative technology that creates a special kind of stimulation. Want to know more? Veronica Farmer, Chief Experience Officer at Zumio, Inc. tells us about the product and its qualities in our EAN interview.
When did the idea for Zumio emerge and how long did it take to get from there to the finished product? Veronica Farmer: There’s a well know saying by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. In the Zumio case, a mother is the mother of invention! The idea for Zumio was born out of frustration when a very busy single mother with several young children and limited spare time wanted a way to achieve orgasm quickly and quietly. The toys she tried—mostly designed by men—used irritating vibration, didn’t allow her to effectively control the sensation, and were too big to pinpoint specific sensory areas. In the absence of an effective toy, she was relegated to using her fingertip for manual masturbation. She reached out to Zumio over two years ago to see if there was some way to take the tried and true circular fingertip motion to a new level. Female designers at Zumio eagerly accepted the challenge!
You are no strangers to the sex toy market. What trends and developments have you observed in this segment in the past few years, and how have they influenced Zumio?
What we have observed specifically in the vibrating sex toy market is a focus on power and programming. More powerful motors, dual motors, smart phone apps, a mind-boggling array of stylistic shapes and colours, and a lot of new brands that enter the market with wide product lineup right out of the gate. Zumio does not subscribe to this ‘more is better’ trend and instead takes a ‘less is more’ approach believing that the ultimate in sophistication is simplicity. We prefer to do ‘world’s first’ products that blend the science of pleasure with innovative design and solid engineering, products that focus on the desired outcome.
Zumio is not a traditional vibrator, seeing how it does not vibrate. So what exactly is Zumio?
There is no shortage of vibrators on the market so simply introducing one more variant of this century old technology in a new shape or colour was uninteresting to us. Vibrators have always just spun a weight on a motor shaft and the motion shakes everything they touch including hands, arms, and large areas of the vaginal and pelvic area. Vibrators can be spiced up with various speeds and programmes, but they all still basically work the same way, they shake. Zumio incorporates a more precise and sweeping circular motion that replicates the movement of a fingertip. This required rethinking the method of action and resulted in the development of our patented oscillation technology.
How hard was it to create and implement your special Spiro TIP technology that simulates the circling movements of a fingertip?
The tip design came with substantial engineering iterations on length, weight, and size. Eventually we developed a tip that would allow us to create motion in a wide circular path with the size, power and intensity we needed but without the need for a huge motor or battery. Numerous refinements, extensive testing and a colour study thrown in, and we ended up with our first product, Zumio!
Another unique feature of Zumio is how it can be used due to the slender handle. What can you tell us about that?
We initially tried a tennis ball shaped housing with soft curves to hold and control a vibrating plastic finger. We discovered during testing that you need to hold the product like an artist’s brush as this points your hand and fingers in the right direction and keeps your arm in a natural relaxed position. Since we weren’t constrained in form factor to house a big motor and battery, we were able to focus on ergonomics and comfort in the hand as well as being unobtrusive during couple play and penetrative sex. The handle was purposely elongated during the design process to further enable this. The lack of vibration allows users to easily hold the handle in their fingertips without the iron grip required for many vibes.
Could you give us some information about the packaging concept?
The packaging concept is part of the overall Zumio experience. When you buy a quality product you expect a quality unboxing experience. No one keeps their iPhone in the original box however you’d be very disappointed if it just came in a flimsy, shrink-wrapped package. We want our customers to feel good about their Zumio product starting with the visual aspect of the outer sleeve, the luxurious designer inner box, the ‘wow’ factor of opening the box to see their shiny new Zumio nesting in a protective foam insert, and finally pulling out the Quick Start, User Guide, USB cable and silk sachet. The packaging goal is to convey the message that ‘you have made a great purchase!’
And what about the pricing for Zumio?
When you introduce a fundamentally new technology to the market, setting the price is challenging as there are no comparisons to position against. Zumio is a highly engineered product that could easily be premium priced. We decided instead to introduce Zumio at a price that positions it as mid-range in the luxury product category. We tested the pricing with several of our key retail and distribution partners as well as consumers prior to finalising and were confident this price would be attractive and generate the desired business results.
Zumio underwent numerous, extensive tests. What results did you and your product testers arrive at?
The invention of Zumio did not happen overnight, but rather was a rigorous iterative process, interlaced with exciting discoveries, numerous challenges, and let’s face it, LOTS of fun! Starting from the initial, technology-oriented patent, our design team went through numerous concepts, sketches, renderings and prototypes to ensure that the Zumio product did not just perform technically, but that it would also deliver an overall, wonderful experience! Engineers, industrial designers, UI and electronics experts worked together on the project, but most importantly, end users were always involved in the design process and decision making. Having enthusiastic, thorough user feedback was key to the design success. We were never short of willing testers! The most common description we heard back from test groups was that an Zumio was ‘different’. Some found it ‘deep’, ‘intense’, ‘totally satisfying’, ‘effective’, ‘rapid’, others described it as ‘highly targeted’ and ‘precise’. No one described it as boring, bland or similar.
“The invention of Zumio did not happen overnight, but rather was a rigorous iterative process, interlaced with exciting discoveries, numerous challenges, and let’s face it, LOTS of fun!”
In your opinion, what makes a product a success? Which criteria are vital? Design? Functionality? Materials? Technology?
For a product to be successful it must possess a wide variety of characteristics. It must generate curiosity, be distinctive, intelligent and thoughtful, be of high quality in every respect, environment and body safe and exude value, but most of all, the EXPERIENCE it delivers must be tangible and memorable. Zumio was designed with a powerfully pleasurable orgasm as the driving force. Technology, design, functionality and material selection were all subservient to the desired experience.
Zumio, womanizer, satisfyer… are these products ushering in a new era in which conventional vibrators are no longer the main focal point of the market?
Yes, we believe so. Vibrators have been a mainstay in this industry from the beginning. Amazingly, vibrator technology has stood the test of time better than technology in virtually all other industries. Eventually however, all technology gets supplanted by newer disruptive technology. Zumio is proud to be a pioneer in this transition.
The unusual design certainly sticks out from amid all the regular vibrators. But isn’t the design also holding back some customers at the same time because it doesn’t look like it’s meant for intimate use?
We are constantly told how unique and different Zumio looks compared to other products. Mission accomplished! We are not in the ‘me too’ business. The sex toy industry has tirelessly hammered out hundreds of variations on the rabbit, wand, dildo, bullets and puck shaped stimulators. It is as if the industry just assumes there is no other way to do it. We did not believe that these traditional product shapes and the universal use of vibrating technology had been optimised for delivering pleasure. We look different because we HAD to be different to deliver on our experiential promise – a deep, different, and core-shaking orgasm! Additionally, if you’re a retailer, you WANT products to stick out and look different. The first part of any sale is to generate curiosity, then once a knowledgeable sales associate explains it to a customer then curiosity converts to interest. Once they actually hold, turn on and feel the sensation on their fingertips and their imagination kicks in, then interest turns into action and another happy customer leaves the shop hurrying home to try their new Zumio!
“We are not in the ‘me too’ business. The sex toy industry has tirelessly hammered out hundreds of variations on the rabbit, wand, dildo, bullets and puck shaped stimulators.”
What target audience are you aiming for with Zumio, and what does that group want and expect from an adult product?
Our target audience want to enhance their lives by maximising their sexual pleasure. They understand that adult products can play an important part in achieving this and are playful and adventurous enough to try new things. When they purchase a product, they have high expectations that it will add to their overall enjoyment. When a product actually exceeds their expectations, it becomes their ‘go-to’ toy. That’s our goal, to be their go-to product because Zumio delivers on its brand promise.
How do you want to position Zumio in the market? As a revolution in the female-oriented product segment, or rather as a toy for couples?
Zumio is currently positioned as a clitoral stimulator. This makes it a female-oriented product by default and we do believe it brings an entirely new and exciting experience to the female segment. However, in our test groups, we had an equal number use Zumio for solo as well as for couple play. As Zumio’s popularity and customer base is growing, we now hear quite frequently from male users about how they have used it solo and with partners on many erogenous zones on their body with highly pleasurable results. Zumio is not restricted by design to application on the clitoris only and is able to deliver highly precise stimulation to targeted external areas on the entire body. Its versatility is just coming into view and we believe it will become the favourite toy for female or male solo use as well as for partners of any type.
What are your expectations regarding Zumio? Aren’t you afraid that the product could get lost in the mass of other new releases?
Any time you bring a product to the market you run the risk of getting lost in the flurry of ‘new’ releases. Most new products get lost in the mass of other releases because they aren’t really new products at all. They are simply variants of other products and lack truly unique capabilities. Consequently, they can’t generate the buzz sufficient to rise above the noise level. Zumio is a fundamentally new technology that delivers a fundamentally unique experience. We have significant depth in our marketing team and know how to position, promote, and differentiate and are already enjoying excellent attention by reviewers, bloggers and press as well as our fast-growing distribution and retail partners.
Eropartner is your exclusive distribution partner for the European market. Why did you pick this company? And why an exclusive agreement?
While Zumio may be a new company and brand in the market, our team have extensive experience in design, engineering and commercialising of a wide range of products, adult and mainstream. As a result, we have had past working relationships with virtually all of the adult distribution companies in the world including Eropartner. Eropartner have a history of bringing innovative new products and brands on board and have an excellent reputation within the market. They immediately recognised the potential of the Zumio product and presented a marketing and sales plan for Europe that met our objectives for good market coverage, brand protection, price parity, and a willingness to work with other distributors where practical to ensure Zumio was made available to the entire region.
Can you see Zumio being sold via mainstream channels as well as the traditional channels of the adult market?
Zumio is discrete enough in design that we believe it has cross-over potential to be on the shelf and sold by progressive thinking retailers in the mainstream channel. We are also being approached by numerous sexual therapists who see Zumio as an effective option for patients looking for a product that is able to pinpoint their pleasure zones without unduly vibrating the entire region or being intimidating to use. We are excited about this sexual health angle as we believe everyone deserves more pleasure in their lives and if we can play a small part in this for this group of individuals we would be thrilled.
Do you offer sales promoting materials for the trade?
We provide our distribution and retail partners with a large library of digital assets, product images, poster artwork, instructional videos, award photos, reviews, blogs and approved website content, via a private, partners only link. We also have Point of Sale kits for brick and mortar stores to ensure Zumio is consistently and attractively displayed, a consumer video that can be looped on an in-store display, and a Sales Training Guide and supporting instructional video for sales associates to ensure Zumio’s key selling features are explained completely and that they know how to physically demonstrate the product.
Will Zumio remain your sole focus for the foreseeable future or are there already plans for new versions or a wholly new toy?
Zumio is based on a patented technology that lends itself to a broad range of development and design. Zumio is just the first of many anticipated new products focused on the adult pleasure industry. We will announce the next addition to the product line-up very shortly.
(The picture on top shows the Zumio Team at the eroFame 2017 trade show. In the middle Geraldine Bakker of Eropartner.)