Evolved Novelties are exploring new avenues with their Gender X line, moving away from traditional gender marketing. As Raymond Houtenbos, Evolved Europes’ VP of Sales, explains in our EAN interview, the goal is to embrace new ideas and a more creative approach to sex toys with this product line. Fittingly, the motto of Gender X is ‘universal imagination.’
You use the term ‘universal imagination’ to describe your new Gender X line. Why did you choose this motto?
Raymond Houtenbos: ‘Universal imagination’ for us means that there aren’t any restrictions on how people play with our toys, or any limitations on how the toys are marketed to them. It’s a bit like abolishing the ‘blue’ and ‘pink’ zones at kids’ toy stores – why can’t a boy play with a doll, or a girl play with a tractor? Of course, they can! The gender lines we construct are not necessary, and they get re-enforced with traditional marketing. So, we’re taking gender marketing out of the equation and letting customers discover shapes and functions on their own – it’s simple, but revolutionary!
The official press release on the launch of the new line states that you are taking a new approach and want to leave the beaten path of gender-specific marketing behind. Why this step?
Raymond: We’ve noticed again and again through consumer feedback that people have bigger imaginations than we give them credit for. We may market a toy one way, and someone will use it in another way. This led us to think about how many more people might feel liberated to think outside the box if we didn’t focus marketing on a particular gender. Describe the toys in detail, yes, but keep the packaging neutral and don’t impose specific uses. Keep the possibilities open-ended and encourage creative thinking. Basically, we took this step to see if we could offer customers a new way to explore, to feel free and excited to experiment.
What considerations went into taking this step? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
Raymond: Well, for one thing we learned how much ‘pleasure instructing’ we were doing. In the process of explaining how to use our toys, we discovered that we could actually be shutting doors to play possibilities. So, we decided to adopt a new attitude about toy education, treating the toy’s functions more as ingredients rather than a finished recipe. Rather than saying ‘put this motor here and you will feel this particular feeling with that specific body part,’ we’re saying, ‘Here’s how the toy works – what would you do with it?’ Then watch the fun begin…
Gender X is launching with 18 SKUs. What kind of product can be found in the line?
Raymond: We’re launching Gender X with a variety of shapes to hit home the idea that this line truly is for everyone. We’ve got an amazing quadruple stimulator, some really stylish clear neon plugs, some partner-play remote toys – a strategic array out of the gate to let people know that whatever they’re into, Gender X is going to be there for them!
And how would you describe the unique selling points of the products?
Raymond: Honestly, the biggest selling point Gender X offers is universality. It’s a very approachable category because everyone is included in the marketing – or non-marketing as we’ve been calling it. Gender X allows people to explore their curiosities without being judged for ‘crossing the gender aisle.’ We’re encouraging our sales teams to emphasize that people bring their own imagination to the toy, not the other way around. It’s a philosophy worth examining with the gender-fluid landscape emerging around the world. If someone doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed, then Gender X offers an alternative viewpoint.
The packaging design is certainly worth mentioning. What is different about Gender X compared to other product lines on that front?
Raymond: We’re keeping it simple with the packaging. Open, clear – let people see the toy and decide for themselves if it’s a shape they’re interested in. It’s kind of a no-frills approach where we don’t waste time catering to a specific demographic. It’s the ‘wall for all’ mentality that we’re after here – approachable, streamlined, straightforward, minimal. Compared to our other product lines, it’s much less complicated and clear-cut. But, of course, we’re still aiming for appealing elegance!
As mentioned, the new line launched in December with 18 SKUs. There are more new products to follow, however. What can you tell us about your plans on that front? How often will you launch new products?
Raymond: We’re planning to put out two new Gender X SKUs every month starting in the new year. I’m going to have to leave it at that, but there are some very cool new concepts lined up!
How are you supporting retailers? Are there POS materials for the Gender X line? Do you offer product training?
Raymond: As with all our Evolved lines, we will offer comprehensive training for all our Gender X toys. We’ll have samples, banners, and shelf-talkers for stores to implement as well. We go all-in with our retailers for every brand, and this won’t be an exception! If anything, we might go into more depth for this first year of Gender X because we want our sales teams to really understand the concept and feel confident explaining to customers what it’s all about. We think once people get the approachability of the concept, it will be an easy go-to section in the store – for anyone!
Can you tell us anything else about Evolved Novelties’ other plans for 2022?
Raymond: We are really excited for COVID-19 to be OVER! But that’s still a work in progress, so in the meantime we’re taking every opportunity we can to expand awareness of our brands and meet people in person wherever and whenever we can! We’re very proud of our super-high fill rate during the pandemic and are feeling good about continuing to supply our retailers with everything they need to keep their customers happy. And obviously, we’re super excited about the 2022 Gender X category launch!