Raymond Houtenbos is looking forward to the ‘real’ debut of Gender X in Europe
When Evolved Novelties launched Gender X in Europe at the end of 2021, the pandemic still had the world in a chokehold. Trade shows were cancelled left and right, personal meetings with clients were out of the question, and as a result, the market had swerved towards digital communication. And while that was an adequate alternative, Raymond Houtenbos, VP of Sales at Evolved Europe, is ecstatic to finally return to normalcy, i.e. real trade shows, face-to-face conversations, presentations where you have the opportunity to look at a product from all angles and pick it up. That’s also a big reason why Raymond is excited to present Gender X at eroFame, because this product line deservers a ‘real’ premiere in front of an international audience.
Gender X already launched with 18 SKUs in December 2021 but now, it is getting a proper premiere in front of a large audience at eroFame. How much are you looking forward to the event?
Raymond Houtenbos: We’re thrilled to have a proper in-person debut for Gender X! There were so many missed moments during the Covid-19 lockdown, and this was a big one because Gender X felt like a real sea change for us – a whole new way of thinking about toys – and we wanted to share it with the world. Now, at eroFame, we’ll finally get our chance to present this concept with the attention it deserves!
How important is it to be able to present products in the tried-and-tested, traditional way again after two years with hardly any trade shows because of the pandemic?
Raymond: On the one hand, our industry was quite resilient during the pandemic because a lot of our products go hand-in-hand with privacy and personal space. But on the other hand, we’re tactile people who love human interaction! And let’s face it, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a live toy demo is worth double that – there’s nothing like physically holding the toy to instantly understand how powerful yet quiet it is, or how creamy soft the material is. We’re proud of our toys and love to show them off! And we’re also excited to leave the pandemic in the rearview mirror.
Gender X is not just another sex toy line, there is much more to it. Could you explain why the line stands out from the crowd?
Raymond: What makes Gender X stand out is its inclusivity and resistance to labels. We wanted to create a line that allows everyone to feel welcome, no matter their gender, orientation or pronouns. By presenting these toys as ‘undefined’ in terms of marketing slant, we allow the consumer to decide what can be experienced with each shape, material, feature, and motor combination. And we’ve learned a lot about how people use toys by simply offering this freedom of imagination. It’s been a fun experiment – one that is fast becoming a permanent feature for Evolved.
When EAN first interviewed you about Gender X, you described the line as ‘simple but revolutionary’. With more and more companies in our market moving towards inclusion, would you also add the adjective ‘topical’?
Raymond: Great question! You’re right, ‘topical’ describes our no-gender marketing very well. The idea behind choosing the word ‘revolutionary’ was to fire up people’s imaginations and let the creativity flow when it comes to how and where to use toys. But as the revolution continues, perhaps ‘topical’ will become even more relevant in the sense that we want to stay cutting edge with this line and offer designs that are always ‘now’, no matter how you define it! Ground-breaking, au-courant, pioneering, innovative – we’ll happily own any word that speaks to fresh ideas that people like.
What kinds of products are in the line and what are their unique selling points?
Raymond: The Gender X line is full of unique shapes – handheld flat devices, bulbous shafts with multiple motors, remote controlled plugs, toys with loop handles and multiple contact points. The beauty of this line is that we now have a home for imaginative toys that don’t fit into other brand categories. But all our toys still have a few elements in common – high end materials, state-of-the-art motors, and a five-year warranty.
As mentioned earlier, Gender X was launched in Europe in December 2021 and has also been sold in the US for some time. How has the response been so far?
Raymond: The response to Gender X has been phenomenal. It feels like our clients have been waiting for this neutral marketing approach so that they can serve their customers more appropriately. We knew through market research that the demand was there for a line that speaks inclusively and universally – but to see the consumer’s positive reaction has been incredibly rewarding. We spent a long time perfecting the concept, then designing and executing the toys and packaging – so it feels incredible to finally get a real-world response.
Are POS materials available for retailers?
Raymond: Yes! Anyone who is interested in our new Gender X store materials, please get in touch with Evolved Europe BV. We’re really excited about how the branding creates a sought-after retail destination.
What tips can you give retailers about marketing Gender X? What should they do to get the highest possible turnover out of this very special product line?
Raymond: The main thing we tell retailers is to let the consumer lead the way! There are more and more customers out there who don’t want to be labelled, and Gender X toys speak for themselves. Point out the universal, simple packaging and let them know that this is a line for everyone – find a shape and motor combination that works for you and escape the gender paradigm once and for all! It’s refreshing and fun to peruse the toys at the store level because they’re innovative, powerful – and designed for multiple uses.
Apart from Gender X, what other products will you be presenting at eroFame?
Raymond: Beyond Gender X, we’re introducing a whole new season of designs for our Barely Bare lingerie line. Available in two sizes for every single design, we’re offering an array of looks that covers girly to goth – and everything in-between. Our POS approach has a new twist as well, with ‘Feel the Difference’ fabric testers now available for in-store displays. We will also be debuting new toy designs in the Evolved line, the Zero Tolerance line and Adam & Eve … Come out and see us at eroFame booth#80!