(Note: This story appears in the April 2021 issue of SE Magazine)
Cloud 9 Novelties is releasing new products under its Health & Wellness line, reflecting a larger paradigm shift in the adult retail industry at all levels.
It’s no secret that adult toys are designed with the sole purpose of “getting off.” But within the last decade or so, there has been a seismic shift within adult retail. The tectonic plate of health and wellness has generated a mass ripple effect in the industry.
That shift in the adult retail landscape has surely been accelerated because of the pandemic—be it physical, mental or spiritual wellness retailers are aiming to satisfy. Sure enough, toys as well as health and wellness products have been flying off the shelves. It stands to reason, then, that Cloud 9 Novelties has released a new product line with health and wellness literally printed right on its packaging.
“Some of our new Health & Wellness products do double duty: they provide health benefits to the user, but they also are meant to offer a pleasurable experience,” says Rachel M. with Cloud 9 Novelties. “On one hand, some of these products were in the planning and/or development stage prior to the pandemic. On the other hand, the increasing concern with wellness among customers due to COVID also inspired us to include products that might not have made it past the review process due to not being a more ‘traditional’ toy.”
And the packaging isn’t just targeted at health and wellness, but also inclusivity; notably, through the use of unisex packaging. In a slideshow announcing their new Health & Wellness products, Cloud 9 quoted a study by Design Analytics, a brand design company that specializes in data. As stated by Design Analytics, “Given consumers’ sensitivity to perceived posturing on the part of brands, support for gender diversity needs to align with the brand’s image and to be carefully executed.”
But as Rachel explains, that wasn’t the sole motivator.
“We also received feedback from our customers saying that having a woman on the packaging indicated it was something only for females, when the products can be used by and on anyone,” says Rachel.
“Consumers are educating themselves on health and wellness in general, and all one has to do is look at how many articles and blog posts are springing up that focus on those areas. Is there a correlation between mainstream focus and increased sales? We think so.” — Rachel M
This revelation, combined with that aforementioned shift, led Cloud 9 to further consider their packaging.
“Around the same time was the oft-heated discussions being had in the industry calling for more egalitarian practices when it came to product packaging, naming of products, and using a wider variety of skin tones,” adds Rachel, noting that Cloud 9 has even named the gender- neutral character/symbol “Pete” that has replaced the female figure after its creator Pete O.
While mainstream products (vibes, rings, dils, etc.) become more multi-pronged items looking to please as well as make healthier, that same mainstream push toward health and wellness opens the door for customers to explore lesser known health/wellness products such as enemas, dilator kits and more.
“Consumers are educating themselves on health and wellness in general, and all one has to do is look at how many articles and blog posts are springing up that focus on those areas,” says Rachel. “With greater interest in the overall subject of sexual health and wellness, we’re seeing consumers being more receptive to products like dilator sets and the like.
“Our focus on health and wellness originated several years ago with the inception of our hygiene line, which offers a full range of enema and douche products; these products always sold very well, but we have seen a definite increase in the demand for these items,” adds Rachel. “Is there a correlation between mainstream focus and increased sales? We think so.”
Increased mainstream focus on health and wellness does mean big-box retailers may also seize the opportunity for potential new customers, but Cloud 9 doesn’t see that as an avenue for competition as much as it sees it as a possibility for product enhancement.
“We do not see mainstream or adult channels as competing or conflicting channels,” says Cloud 9’s Scott D. “Consumers will always shop within the channels they feel most comfortable with—having these assortments available provides a wider selling platform to newer customers.
“As more brick-and-mortar dealers expand the category space at a retail level, we will continue to gain more insight on those products that resonate the best,” Scott adds.
And while it’s too early within the product life cycle to determine what is doing well and what isn’t, Cloud 9 knows if retailers dedicate a space that eases the burden on customers shopping and are doubly armed with the knowledge they need to sell these not-so-niche-anymore items, the category will continue to soar.
“Our goal is to expand the adult retailer brick-and-mortar sales funnel by offering a wider assortment of products that may not typically be available within this channel,” says Scott. “Stores can allocate a designated retail space for these health and wellness products that provide solutions for everyday consumer needs.”