Russian erotic market: the vision of Erotic Fantasy

opinion , market , marketing , Erotic Fantasy , exclusive

The company shared some opinions regarding the general problems of the adult toys market. While the facts are solid and undeniable, some claims can differ greatly from the traditional vision. The story is about sex shops' routine and the tips for attracting customers. The information corresponds to the authors' point of view and is given in a witty and humorous manner.

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Erotic Fantasy is an exclusive distributor, working with many notorious brands, such as pjur, wicked, b-vibe, le wand, the rabbit company, crazy girl, love in luxury, hustler lingerie and others. Many brands are represented by Erotic Fantasy exclusively. The company got a number of awards for its merit in the professional sphere and is constantly striving to undertake new approaches. To rest on the laurels is not the company's style. In particular, Erotic Fantasy supplies many American brands, one part of them has become very popular in Russia, others are making their way on the adult toys market of our country.

On the last day of spring, as the Chief Editor of the portal, I came to the capital and visited the office of the company Erotic Fantasy. Its people agreed to share their vision, their strategy and told me about the way they do business. The first thing I felt entering the office is the big space. Once you leave the street, you find yourself in a spacious lobby, all the rooms, located there, seem spacious as well. This area is very different from the street you come from, so, you feel free and relaxed. It may be because there is nothing hidden in the corners, in a shameful way. There are shelves with items on them and dummies wearing fashion-forward erotic sets, some funny toys and lubricants. You can see and touch any of them. 

We had a conversation with Kseniya Borisova, the founding member of the company. The thoughts she articulated turned to be my notes and are posted below, uncensored, not edited. The company' opinion is expressed in the first person.

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We have always been apart from the Russian erotic market's common flow, we tried many strategies, product categories and trademarks that have already finished their life cycle on market, or failed to get any successful position, while many of our branch neighbours start tring these goods and ideas at present. Our current strategy also differs from that of other companies on market. Three or four years ago, we estimated the erotic market' perspectives through the prism of the economic situation of that time. We decided to change our basic niche of middle-class goods by that of premium items. The decision was thoroughly estimated and taken in a conscious way. Since then, we have been watching that the decision we once made fits perfectly for the development of Erotic Fantasy, according to the financial rates.

We are up to date with everything that happens of the erotic market of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Some features across our country are similar to those of the Member States of the EAEU, that form a single customs area with Russia. 

1. Sex shops' attendance. While the rest of the world is driven by positive sex culture, within the EAEU this topic remains uncovered. Many people avoid entering a sex shop, being scared or feeling awkward. We, the market players, are to blame, as there are few shops people are not scared to step into. The windows and the showcases are covered with banners saying "Intimate", what you can see there are those orange dummies, the items hidden in plastic bags, those scarlet walls, the employees not wearing uniform, the lack of testers, including the cosmetics, etc. Fortunately, all this mess starts changing, yet, hard work is to be done furthermore. The sex shops' attendance is very poor, in comparison to the stores of lingerie, beauty products or gadgetry. Many of our retail clients across Russia and within the EAEU report they have approximately ten customers a day at offline shops, while the online shops feel blessed if they manage to get 1000 people a day. Only with the oldest and the most popular shops and players this figure can reach 8-15 thousand customers a day. Let's compare then. Such online store as pudra.ru has more than 30 thousand visitors daily, despite the existence of l'Etoile and ile de Beaute. Sviaznoy has more than 400 thousand visitors a day (with Evroset', the manufacturers' monobrands, Mvideo, Eldorado in the background) and so on. In general, the figures of mass market are far beyond those of sex toys market. Mind the fact that we are not considering conversion and other indicators, we are talking about attendance only. With the attendance rates for adult shops being so low, the priority task, in our opinion, is to raise the average check's amount. Even with one thousand people, paying 500 roubles each, the total will not exceed 500000 roubles, one half of this sum had been spent on purchasing, so, you get only 250 thousand, and now you are to pay everybody who caters for those 1000 purchases. 

2. Sex shops' merchandise is not the basic necessity, thus, our potential customers shape a limited segment of population. That's ok, though. Sex itself plays different roles in different people's lives. We should understand it and avoid bothering the clients who just came to get acquainted with the world of sex shops by offering them anal lubricants and dildos. We have witnessed two cases recently. One of the market players posted a video telling the vendors about "the things a newcomer may be offered at a sex shop". And then the author listed the whole range there, from cosmetics to dildos, erection rings and floggers. People who spent years working in the adult industry seem to have forgotten what it means to be a newcomer at a sex shop. The occupational deformation is a frequent problem, we have not skipped it either. We control ourselves, as it can be harmful for our business. Another example is a post on social networks about what the sex shops' owners and the senior managers find about distributing samples. They think people should not be given sachets of cosmetics, as they can only take the sample without buying a larger tube. The fact that, following this practice, the shop can acquire a loyal customer for only 15-50 roubles (the sample's value) is not considered seriously. Everybody wants to get the profit here right now, instead of bothering themselves with building some business relations that can last for years. People are scared of investing 15-50 roubles! They are afraid that the client, after trying a lube or a perfume from the sachet, will buy them at another store. Following this logic, all the electronic shops should urgently hide those samples of home appliances inside the cupboards and should never show them to the clients. What if a client takes a look at iPhone at Eldorado store and buys it at Mvideo shop? The whole work for nothing! 

3. Sex shops' position. One can frequently hear adult shops being referred to as stores of health and families' well-being. It may sound sharp, but, in our opinion, such strategy is ambiguous. It can attract a lot of negative feedback from the opponents of the sexual liberation. Besides, people with a degree in Medicine are not likely to work at sex shops, so, the latters have no ground for offering sex items for one's health. An intimate shop is meant for selling goods for sex, for comfortable intimate life, for entertainment and for leaving the severe reality behind, in form of an intimate game. Sex shops' influence on family life is implicit. The same we could say about a supermarket, it can also be called "a shop for families' well-being". The whole family sits down for dinner in the evening, such things can make people closer to each other. If the family has got problems, they cannot be addressed with a new catsuit or fresh tangerines. We can hardly imagine how a flogger or an iron anal plug or a fisting dildo could benefit one's health. These are different spheres. In our sales strategy, we hardly ever consider sex shops to be something able to strengthen the family relations or benefit one's health. Their mission is to provide entertainment, personal care and that of the partner, and to raise the quality of life. As for the family and health, they can serve only implicitly. 

4. New type of clients. We can devide the potential customers into two groups: the first one is comprised of those who consume, the second one-from those who choose. The former generation of consumers seeks to satisfy their necessities. They would say:  "I need a vibrator, this one can vibrate, it means it serves". The up-to-date purchasers are those who choose, they like to select the best goods from a range of good items. Think of a supermarket or a beauty shop, whatever. What can you frequently see there? Right! Everybody is reading the labels, checking the expiry date, the manufacturer' data, other buyers' comments upon the goods on the Internet. These users act this way: "What are the best vibrators you have got? Ok, I will choose something from these ones." After that, the client studies the stuff, the item's properties, its safety, has a look at the warranty card, estimates the design and the comfort of usage, reads online comments and finally chooses a piece having all these parameters on the desired level. This issue of the changing customer's type, perhaps, is the most deep and challenging, but it has always brought good results, in the form of rising incomes. At the moment of shaping our merchandise matrix, we rely on the theory of generations. Till now, we have been satisfied with the output this knowledge enables. 

5. Goods of frequent demand. Items of advanced technologies-smart phones, computers or even cars, are, probably, what sex industry entrepreneurs prefer. We all like visiting modern supermarkets, drugstores, clothes shops and so on. Everyone is eager to make their life more comfortable with the household appliances, preferably, of the latest model. That's the way people behave worldwide. However, when it comes to sex shops, people must have forgotten we are now in 2018! We can still find battery-powered items on wholesale market, old-fashioned wrapping, if any, with no warranty provided and we can even see some odd devices of unknown purpose, made only because factories are able to make them, misconsidering the end customers' needs. Imagine a client who has recently chosen a hybrid automobile, is using voice control on his smart phone and ordering food through a tablet application. Can you think of a situation when he enters a sex shop, saying something like this: "Can I have that massager with N-type batteries, my favorite type, you know? Don't bother yourself with showing me the warranty card, as this item's paper wrapping, with a tick in front of the article number, on the side, inspires me great confidence towards both the manufacturer and the shop. Don't even think of getting it out of your glass showcase, what if I can't control myself and steal this sex art masterpiece! You needn't explain what is this items' difference from the other 28 looking totally alike that are placed on the next shelf. I can pretty see the difference among them!". Another plot: a girl comes in. She came by Uber taxi, paid by card, using online banking service on her smart phone, she has recently posted a comment on Instagram about a new powder nail coating she got at a beauty salon. She has got a bag by Calvin Klein on her shoulder, is wearing a perfume by Lancome and a mascara by Armani, and has plenty of beauty products by Anastasia Beverly Hills, Lime Crime, Clinique and others in her make-up purse. She loves herself, she takes care of herself and monitors the beauty products she uses. She visits popular beauty shops, where she can smell and touch all the luxury and non-luxury products, she can read their composition and ask a shop assistant for advice. Imagine her entering a sex shop, saying she heard her mates discussing some lubricants and they said those are nice. She is coming closer to the counter, locked with a key, with several tubes arranged there, their price is of 100 roubles each. She is not allowed to either read the composition or test the product. She has to turn to the vendor, who is watching a soap opera or making a video about how to put make-up properly. She asks: " Can I have that tube? I need a lube urgently, it is a lube, actually? I don't care about who and where made it, how well it lubricates or smells. I am sure you have got only trustworthy brands with centuries-old history. Some time ago, I ordered a pair of shoes by INCH2, having paid a deposit for the full cost. You have got the same level of quality as those handmade, best quality leather shoes, haven't you? Don't offer me anything beyond 300 roubles. To say the truth, it is only a facial cream or a shampoo that I pay 4000 and 2000 for, respectively. But this lube is another story. In this case, I will only apply it on the most sensitive part of my body to be touched by the closest person of mine. Not a big deal! I simply take your word for it! A plastic pavilion by the metro station you are located in seems to be a model of both sustainability and confidence in the future." The two cases are comic, ironic, just hyberbole. However, at times, it seems that this is the way the old-fashioned sex shops' owners see their customers. One can blame me for focusing on the brands' price range (Dolce&Gabbana, INCH2, Calvin Klein, Armany), but the point is that even such affordable brands as Nivea, Garnier, H&M, Zara, l'Etoile, Bershka, provide you with open access to their goods. Think of a store of domestic appliances! The same thing. Even fine jewelry stores are moving towards a new type of selling- Swarovski in Vienna and Duty Free shops worldwide. Many people say that the customers are short of money or prefer AliExpress instead or the rivalry is to blame. But the true reason is that you can't stop the time from ticking! The generations come and go, the technologies are developing, yet sex shops are stick to their former policy. We started in 2007, and now, in 2018, we can still see some shops that look exactly the way they looked eleven years ago, it is awful! If you are selling to the modern audience, it means you are to meet their expectations as for the level of quality, service, goods' availability and you should let them talk to a vendor. Our clients are ordinary people, with no specific skills or desires. They live in the same city, they watch the same movies. Arrange the selling process the way they are used to! 

Every existing way of doing business can be ok, as every business person has a specific reason for starting a company. We are not lecturing business people, we are not imposing our vision, saying our viewpoint is the only solution. We are sharing our thoughts. Every business person is free to decide which role to choose for their company, still, it may be useful to get acquainted with alternative minds. Once, a client told us: " Don't be confused, I haven't opened my shop for money, but as a hobby!" We, the people of Erotic Fantasy, seek to marry the income and the peace of mind.