Any good retailer knows that stocking the staples will help turn profits, including lingerie staples. And carrying special luxury items that women don’t really need, but that will make her feel like splurging, can also stoke sales. But industry insiders know that making room on your shelves or counter for inexpensive little extras could translate into even bigger profits.
If you already have the teddies, bra and panty sets, elegant robes and even lingerie wash stocked somewhere, you probably already know that carrying a selection of shoes, hosiery and even body jewelry can increase your units per transaction. But what about those other, often overlooked items?
Chances are, if a woman is buying a new piece of lingerie, there is a reason she is buying it: For a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, or maybe just so she can look and feel sexy for her partner. Why not suggest she make the evening even more perfect?
“Maybe the romantic evening could include edible chocolates, like chocolate body paints,” said Angela Mustone, director of business development for Shunga Erotic Art, a Canadian-based company that specializes in romantic oils and intimate-moment enhancers. “Or you could even suggest edible massage oils. Items like those go hand-in-hand with lingerie. Number one, it gives the consumer the idea that this really is a special occasion that deserves special details. Number two, it can turn that evening into a truly special, memorable evening.”
Shunga Erotic Art carries edible body paints in various flavors: chocolate, strawberries and champagne, and vanilla and chocolate. Each of the glass bottles comes with a small foam paintbrush for easy application, and each is decorated with the company’s traditional Japanese shunga-inspired artwork.
The edible massage oils are also a big seller for the company, and can really help turn a quiet evening at home into something more memorable, Mustone said.
More recently, Shunga Erotic Art launched its organic line of products, many of which are packaged together in the Garden of Edo Organic Intimate Collection. The new Green Tea Erotic Massage Oil is a blend of certified-organic, refined vegetable oils infused with the light, crisp flavor of green tea. The flavoring is also used in the Intimate Kisses Aphrodisiac Oil, which warms intimate areas prior to lovemaking. And the kit’s Oriental Crystals Dead Sea Salt is the perfect accessory when preparing for that special evening: Not only does it help bathwater soften skin, but it turns the water green, so the user gets a visual benefit from the product as well, Mustone said.
Another company that also uses the Eastern mystique to sell sensual products is veteran manufacturer Kama Sutra. Taking its name from the ancient Hindu text devoted to the delights of human sexuality, Kama Sutra has four decades of experience in creating products to foster romance. Kama Sutra’s elegant packaging is suitable for even the most high-end boutique, and its wide array of packages offer many combinations of body powders and lotions, stimulating oils, lubricants, bath products and massage oils—including the Weekender Kit, ideally suited for a quick getaway.
Preparing the body to wear sexy pieces of lingerie can also be an area to focus on when trying to increase sales.
“Lingerie is sexy and feminine. But razor bumps and ingrown hairs caused by waxing are not,” said Liz Goodno of Earthly Body. “The perfect accessories to any sexy piece of lingerie are silky legs, and a clean, smooth bikini line. You can bet that all women who shop for and wear bedroom negligees frequently groom their body hair. Why not sell them the two things they rely on to feel the sexiest in intimate settings at the same time?”
Confidence is key, and many women are insecure about their body hair, so they avoid dressing in scanty bedroom garments, Goodno said. Creating that smooth, bump-free bikini area will instantly boost confidence for the lingerie-wearing beginner, allowing them to feel more comfortable and daring when choosing their negligees, she said.
To that end, the company offers Dare to Be Bare Miracle Oil and Shave Cream. The products help soften and moisturize the skin and smooth out rough areas from shaving and waxing.
To help set the mood, Earthly Body also carries massage candles in a variety of scents and styles, some of which are even edible.
“The primary differences that set us apart from other massage candle companies is our formula: edible massage candles and heart shaped tins,” Goodno said. “Most massage candle companies use only soy in their candles. We add coconut, hemp seed, apricot, jojoba and avocado oils for increased slip factor, better absorbency into the skin, and no waxy residue. If you can’t help but taste that bare shoulder during an engaging massage, our edibles leave you with a hint of flavor, not a bitter chemical taste in your mouth.”
Earthly Body also offers candles in heart-shaped tins to add to the romance of an intimate setting.
“Retailers should always keep one of Earthly Body’s massage candles lit in the store during open hours,” Goodno suggested. “The scent alone will intrigue customers, and the light from the flame will draw their attention to the display. Also, display the candles close to the register or in the middle of the room to grab the customer’s attention. Keep the massage candle spoon handy and offer to demonstrate the massage candle on the customer’s hand. Use only a little, and gently massage the oil on the skin. Or you can spoon some into the customer’s hand and they can feel it themselves—that spoon we include is actually the perfect ‘doser,’ giving you the exact amount of oil you need for a great massage.”
But it’s not just women who can enjoy splurging for a romantic evening. Though some men may be lacking in the “shopping gene,” if you’re stocking the right items it is possible to tempt them while they’re looking to pick up something for a special lady. And it’s even more likely that female shoppers will be apt to select products that they think their male partners might enjoy.
Pennsylvania-based Xgen Products is presenting a new line of menswear items called PPU from Great Deals Distributions.
“There are about 20 pieces in the line now, and they are basic, but good quality, high-end pieces,” said Andy Green, vice president of Xgen Products. “These days, even traditional department stories carry high-end lines of lingerie, but there are only packaged briefs or bikinis for men from companies like Calvin Klein in those stores.”
The PPU line fills that gap, because the pieces are basic, not too flashy, comfortable and stylish, Green said.
The boxer briefs feature elastic waistbands and pockets, something not seen in most menswear pieces. There are also bikini briefs and other styles available, he noted.
The idea of the line is that it’s not only women who want to look and feel sexy in a piece: men enjoy that feeling as well, so stocking a few pieces for guys can help out your bottom line even more.
Seven ’til Midnight, a women’s lingerie line distributed by Xgen, has taken a different approach to extras. Some items in the company’s holiday catalogue come equipped with their own add-on accessories, thereby helping the items stand out for consumers.
The Ella lace lame teddy comes with a pair of bondage cuffs, and the Ella lace lame chemise is accompanied by a blindfold. The Madeleine, a purple printed lace chemise, has a matching eyemask. Each style is available packed or non-packaged, and both chemises are available in plus sizes.
Of course, it’s also a good idea to stock such playful items as blindfolds, spankers and cuffs separately, for clients looking to spice up their sex lives. Several lines are particularly suitable for lingerie stores. Ruff Doggie Styles offers a flogger that looks like a rose vine, as well as other whimsical bondage-themed toys. And Booty Parlor—with classic pink-and-black packaging that recalls vintage lingerie designs—is always a good choice, including such products as lacy blindfolds, vibrating bath mitts, massage oils, and the Tickle Me Intimacy Kit, which combines body powder and a feather duster, massage oil, a lubricant and a “kissable” body shimmer.
Another familiar name in upscale pleasure product marketing is LELO—though its toys are high-end items that don’t usually trigger impulse buys. At The AVN Show in August, though, LELO made a splash with the release of new items in a line of accessories that would be well suited for lingerie boutique upsells. Among the new accessories are the three scented Flickering Touch Massage Oils, which have 24K gold flakes.
“People have been asking us for years to come out with a massage oil, and we could have done it before this, but we always wanted to wait until we could do it right,” explained Donna Faro, director of sales for LELO.
The oils are satiny smooth and silky to the touch, making them perfect for sensual or therapeutic massage, she said. The oils, which come in a pump bottle with the signature LELO “O” on top, come in Balsam Fir & Bergamot, Spicy Clove & Amber, and Fresh Lily & Musk. LELO also released three soy-based massage candles in the accessories line, available in Snow Pear & Cedarwood, Vanilla & Crème de Cacao, and Black Pepper & Pomegranate.
This article originally ran in the September 2010 Intimate, a supplement to AVN.