trends

A Look at the Year's Top Toys for Holiday Gift-Giving

A Look at the Year's Top Toys for Holiday Gift-Giving

Tis the season for holiday shopping, and the adult retail industry is getting in the spirit with end-of-the-year product releases, holiday-themed wares and packaging for extra-special gift giving. From high-end pleasure products to value-packed bundles and affordable stocking stuffers, manufacturers are focusing their energies on creating a special gifting experience for consumers, whether they patronize brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers.

“Holiday gifts are everything that’s fun, thoughtful and useful,” Blush Novelties Sales Manager Nancy Cosimini said. “The holiday season is an excellent opportunity to self-indulge, slow down, practice some self-care, be happy and ease your racing mind. And what better gifts than pleasure products? It helps reduce stress and enhance feelings of happiness and overall wellness.”

Kits or bundles make gift giving easier for shoppers, as well as provide more of a complete gift experience.

While sales have traditionally increased during the holidays, Cosimini says that the increased alone time during the pandemic encouraged people to reconnect with self-love and self-care, which further boosted sales.

“People now feel more comfortable talking about intimacy products and are willing to explore, not just for themselves but also as gifts for their partners and spouses,” she said. “This is definitely a reason to celebrate!”

According to Tara Acevedo, the designer behind Tyes by Tara intimate jewelry and accessories, the value of pleasure products goes beyond their aesthetics and the physical stimulation that they provide.

“Pleasure products are especially [giftable] because they open up conversations, deepen connections and make memorable experiences,” she said. “Pleasure product manufacturers have to take into consideration how their product appeals to the holiday shopper through product presentation and creating easy gifting solutions with holiday-inspired kits and bundles.”

While pleasure products offer a wealth of inherent benefits, a gift begins as a visual treat.

“When giving a gift, presentation makes all the difference in the recipient’s perception of what they have been gifted,” said Tiffany Cartigiano, the director of business development for Fantasy Lingerie. “A nice, quality product with packaging that complements the item will always bring a perception of value.”

Understanding the importance of packaging for holiday gift-giving comes easy for Viben Toys Brand Manager Charlette Lopez, who has many years’ experience in adult retail.

“When consumers are shopping for the perfect giftable pleasure product, hands down, packaging has to be on point,” she said. “Let's face it, no one is taking an adult toy out of the package to wrap it, so the packaging must feel like a gift when they unwrap it. Modern, classy packaging is an easy sell during the gift season.”

COTR Sales Director Kimberly Scott Faubel agreed that a giftable product is one that, often, may not even need to be gift-wrapped.

“The packaging is decorative as well as functional, making it something that a person is proud to present to another person,” she said. “When folks are shopping for pleasure products to gift, they’re either looking for something that is overthe- top silly or something more refined, elegant and beautiful. Offering additional items, such as the Le Wand Enamel Pin and a special-edition storage bag with the Le Wand Little Pleasures, adds value to a gift set that people are thrilled to give to their loved ones.”

BUNDLES OF LOVE

Kits and bundles have always been an easy option for a harried holiday shopper. Bundling gifts with several complementary products allows for a single purchase, saving time for both the retailer and the buyer. Many manufacturers have found that offering these options creates a win-win buying experience both at the wholesale level and, of course, at the consumer level.

“Kits are great for the buyer who needs a gift but lacks inspiration,” said Rebecca Pinette-Dorin, North America sales manager for the French boutique brand, Exsens. “[Kits and bundles] seem more special than just one product alone, and sometimes festive packaging or an added accessory catches the eye and sweetens the deal. Kits also connote an activity more than just a product alone. ‘It’s fun to try all of the flavors’ and ‘It’s fun to try this with a blindfold.’”

Shots America’s Nick Calafati enthusiastically endorses kits as a one-stop gift-giving idea.

“Having extra value such as a kit or bundle is the next big step in what makes a product a great gift,” he said. “Everyone loves multiple items in a beautiful, well-made package.”

Shots America offers a special bundle, drawing on the holiday Advent theme.

“Our newest, most giftable product is definitely from our bestselling lingerie line Le Desir: the Advent Calendar Kit,” he said. “With eight items inside, ranging from lingerie to bondage to vibrators, it was specifically designed to be given as a gift with multiple items to be opened on multiple days — or all at once, if they so choose. We also have our Switch kit, which features an innovative vibrator with a vibrating base that includes two or three — depending on which kit you get — different tops that you can ‘switch’ between. Its value speaks for itself.”

Body products company Earthly Body has contributed to the holiday gift bundle trend for many years.

“We have a lot of great gift items in box sets and things like body lotion or skin butter that are ‘innocent’ enough to give to anyone on your holiday giving list,” explained Kevin Wachs, owner of Earthly Body. “By grouping these items with our gift sets, retailers have an opportunity to get customers to buy gifts for someone other than a romantic partner. Customers like convenience and they love being able to cross multiple people off their gift-giving list with one stop.”

Fantasy Lingerie’s Tiffany Cartigiano added, “Of course, packaging these bundles and kits often begins at the manufacturing level. Kits or bundles make gift giving easier for shoppers, as well as provide more of a complete gift experience.”

Xgen Products President Andy Green says that gifting a pleasure product goes beyond just a toy in a box or piece of clothing on a hanger.

“It's the presentation of the item, the messaging on the packaging and the overall value,” he said. “Kits and sets for couples are appealing because they usually include more ‘bang for your buck.’”

Of course, kits and bundles aren’t limited to any particular group of products.

“Bundles are excellent gifts because they are the best deals and you can use products together or split them up into separate giftable items,” contributed Joe Vela and Kristin Fretz of Emojibator. “Our ‘fruit basket’ set is one of the most popular bundles for the holiday season because you can purchase four of our most popular vibrators at a steep discount and gift one of each to friends/lovers.”

Uberlube Brand Manager Cheryl Sloane shared her own insights, based on decades of experience owning her own female-oriented pleasure boutique in Chicago. “Gift shoppers are looking for the complete pleasure package. Toy, lube and lingerie for an evening of pleasure.” On the topic of appealing to consumers, she noted: “Around the holidays, color counts and shoppers are always looking for something a little bit special.” Owners of brick-and-mortar stores can embrace the suggestion from Viben Toys’ Charlette Lopez when it comes to adding their own flair to kits. “To make those highly sought-after toys feel more holiday in theme, retailers can create their own baskets, kits and bundles with other holiday items. In a store environment, you would be surprised how a few bows can make non-holiday items feel more festive, as another option.”

Svakom Sales Manager Alexandro Feynerol said that by bundling items, shoppers are able to create personalized, intimate kits that also offer added value. “It’s not something that the recipient of the gift could easily go and buy on their own,” he said. “This means that bundles definitely will be popular among gift givers. In retail stores, usually non-holiday themed items can be displayed in bundles, with discounts or paired with other items as a ‘gift with purchase’ to increase their perceived value.”

HOLIDAY BESTSELLERS

While holiday wish lists can encompass products across all categories, lingerie and “lotions and potions” are traditionally bestsellers. Sexy Santa costumes and other holiday-themed garments allow consumers to look the part, while items such as lube make fun, affordable gifts.

“Like any industry, during the holidays, gift-givers love stocking stuffer items and little add-ons to complete their present,” Viben Toys’ Charlette Lopez said. “Body lotion, candles, arousal creams and pills, and flavored lubricants are always a hit.”

Of course, lingerie is always a special gift, no matter what time of year it is. Santa-inspired lingerie for all genders has been around for years and longtime lingerie manufacturer Dreamgirl continues to add to its collection of chimney-shimmying red-and-white holiday wear. Gihan Gabor, national sales manager at Dreamgirl, was excited to share this year’s offerings.

“Dreamgirl has a range of giftable products this year,” she said. “Starting with our Santa-inspired lingerie, as this lingerie collection comes in babydolls, teddies and garter slips. They feature royal red velvet, an iconic black belt and buckle, and are embellished with white faux-fur trim, and finished with a Santa hat. These Santa-inspired pieces are must-have gifts for this holiday season!”

Mapalé joins the holiday fun with its themed lingerie. Andrea Rodriguez, business development executive for the lingerie manufacturer, shared that the company has added a contemporary twist to some of its signature styles.

“There's a sexy red two-in-one babydoll and two-piece set to have fun with, or you can even dress up as a holiday pair in our Mrs. Claus and Christmas Present costumes,” she offered. “Our lingerie comes in boxes with a frontal and back image of the style. You can simply add a red bow to the top of the box, and ta-da, you have the perfect gift. The best part is that our packaging is recyclable and environmentally friendly.”

Fantasy Lingerie has a few different styles that are easily adaptable to become special holiday gifts, and also offers Christmas-specific costumes. Tiffany Cartigiano noted that there is an assortment of holiday colors and themes to choose from.

“Our curve stretch satin teddy is in festive red and available in a wide range of sizes,” she said.

Offering several other styles in soft, flowy red eyelash lace material and another style with a tie-front top and side-tie panty in emerald green, the colors are a gentle reminder of the season. For a more festive look, Fantasy offers “How Rudolph You!” a fun Santa-inspired bedroom costume that is available in a full range of sizes.

“From the wholesale perspective, anything in seasonal colors — deep jeweled tones, sparkly trims, and variations of red or green hues — or themes and items with a strong price value equation are very strong sellers,” Cartigiano said.

Many lingerie manufacturers have also created eye-catching box packaging for their collections to increase brand value and the appeal of the gifts inside.

Dreamgirl’s Gihan Gabor added that high-quality packaging makes it easier for consumers to gift items, because “the consumer does not have to go above and beyond to make the gift presentable.” Penthouse Lingerie’s Stephanie Trachtenberg mentioned the uniqueness of the recognizable brand’s packaging as well. “Our Penthouse Lingerie makes the perfect gift for any woman, mainly because it’s so beautifully presented and truly intended to be a gift! Any woman will immediately feel sexy when she steps into Penthouse Lingerie.”

Finding the perfect gift of lingerie often goes past holiday-themed garments or elegant packaging to focus on the beauty, versatility, sexiness and seductiveness of the tempting threads inside. Drawing on their deep knowledge of the year-round lingerie industry, several representatives shared their secrets of successful lingerie gift-giving.

“Lingerie is an excellent gift for the holidays,” Dreamgirl’s Gihan Gabor said. “Everyone loves how special lingerie makes them feel, whether it’s sexy or cozy. Dreamgirl has an amazing range of quality lingerie with soft fabrics and an attention to detail. Each style has extra details, which add value. We have several robe sets, and some items even have fun accessories. Additionally, we have beautiful lounge items which are cozy and feminine.”

Because comfort is sometimes just as popular as sexy lingerie, Gabor says, robe sets and loungewear also do well during the holidays.

“Anything cozy is perfect to wrap up and gift to your friends for the holidays,” she said.

When the recipient’s size isn’t known, suggests Fantasy Lingerie’s Tiffany Cartigiano, shoppers should “look for items that are O/S, OS/Q, or split sizes to make gifting lingerie easier.”

As an easier-to-shop alternative, lube and body care products are convenient gifts that are more affordable and sized perfectly to serve as an add-on to an existing gift. Often packaged as bundles or kits, there exists a wide range of specially created and packaged collections for easy gift-giving for the busy consumer.

“Body care products make great gifts year-round,” Earthly Body’s Kevin Wachs said. “We find that all our gift sets work well during the holidays. Besides our latest items, other must-haves for retailers include our Tasty Travel Sets, Massage à Trois set and our Massage Oil Trios. Each year, we offer three seasonal massage candle scents that reflect the winter holiday atmosphere. This year’s fragrances are Cabin Fever, Down the Chimney and Ride My Sleigh.”

Going into more detail about these holiday bundles, he added, “They are available as a gift set of three candles: one of each fragrance in a 2-ounce size, or individually in a 6-ounce massage candle. We also offer a prepack for our brick-and-mortar retailers that comes with four of each fragrance in the 6-ounce size, plus a display box and a tester.”

Smaller-sized consumables allow recipients to sample new product varieties.

“For us, it’s the flavors that really sell during the holidays,” Exsens’ Rebecca Pinette-Dorin said. “For example, we definitely see an upsurge in our Hot Vanilla Warming Massage Oil, and our Strawberry and Mint Mojito flavors sell well since they are [in] red and green [packaging]. We’ve introduced an Apple Tini Lubricant this October to take advantage of the popularity of seasonal flavors. It’s delicious and perfect for fall and winter days!”

Sliquid’s Erik Vasquez added, “Our most colorful products, namely the Swirl flavored products, always pick up during the holidays.”

Vasquez said that Sliquid’s lubes, available in 2-ounce sizes, are not only appropriate as stocking stuffers, but are also available as pre-built and customizable gift kits “that will appeal to a wide range of customers, complete with packaging, bows, and love notes.”

Pinette-Dorin elaborated on the importance and appeal of stocking-stuffer-sized products for the gift-giving season.

“Stocking stuffers are the most important holiday staple,” she said. “Not only can you sell multiple items to fulfill a holiday shopper’s needs, but you can upsell any customer, no matter their reason for coming in to shop. Stocking stuffers need to be cute, fun, on the small side, and reasonably priced.”

FEELING FESTIVE

Some pleasure product manufacturers have ventured into designing seasonal items for holiday gift-giving. Ranging from toys to games and everything in between, these novelty products can stimulate and amuse shoppers, inspiring first-time purchases.

Seattle-based Kheper Games specializes in holiday-themed games, barware and other novelty gifts. Brian Pellham, the company’s CEO, says that the collection began with a set of games, called “The 12 Drinking Games of Christmas.”

“The game names parody Christmas carols with names such as ‘Drink All Ye Faithful,’ and ‘All I Want for Christmas is My Two Martinis.’ This game did so well, we further expanded into sex, adult party and pot versions of this game,” he said. “We also have an extensive line of holiday pasties, Santa Says card games, Christmas Sex Crackers, Drinking Dreidels, He Sees You When You're Drinking, a Christmas Tree Cup, and Candy Cane and Christmas Tree Straws/Stirrers, and Santa's Secret Sex Position coupons. We even redesigned our sex dice game, Under the Mistletoe, to be more flirty and playful.”

Not limited to just games, Kheper also touts other holiday specialties.

Pellham shared, “Our most giftable new item this year would have to be our new holiday pasties. We added Mistletoe Pasties, Gift Box Pasties, and Male Reindeer Pasties to our line. The ‘Mistletoe Pasties’ are a hit as they can be worn by anyone, regardless of gender. Our packaging also suggests you place it over your genital area, since that's where many people want to be kissed! All of our pasties are flat and modest in size, so they can even fit inside most sizes of Christmas cards.”

Expounding on the success of giving Kheper Games during the holiday season, Brian shared, “Our entire line is giftable because they are items a couple or group can enjoy together. Pretty much everything can be opened in front of families without causing embarrassment.”

In a retail store, a seasonal section can be used to draw in shoppers with its timely appeal.

“Seasonal items offer an additional revenue stream for retailers,” Xgen Products’ Andy Green said, noting that non-holiday items can also be placed in a themed section to further boost sales.

“Retailers can add ‘normal’ items to that section as well, and customers will react differently simply because an item is in the holiday section,” he said.

Uberlube’s Cheryl Sloane says that the company has a tradition of offering retailers a tabletop tinsel tree for the holidays, along with red bows that can be placed onto Uberlube bottles and hooks to hang them on the tree.

“Take our bottles and make them a special holiday item,” she said, noting that the company will continue to offer its holiday tree promo this year.

Dreamgirl’s Gihan Gabor said that retailers can create in-store displays for the holidays utilizing lingerie in different fabrics, colors and styles.

“Special trims to traditional silhouettes offer customers an extra value, making the item more desirable to their customers,” she said. “Retailers can mix in non-holiday themed items, especially in black to create a more visually appealing display. Also, setting up mannequins in addition to fixtures will help break up the intensity of the presentation.”

Seasonal merchandise will not only capture shoppers’ attention as gifts to purchase, but “with creative merchandising, clever promotions and a well-rounded assortment, retailers can optimize holiday traffic and turn these buyers into year-round customers by showing them both seasonal and non-seasonal items,” said Tara Acevedo of Tyes by Tara.

“Non-holiday items can be displayed as giftable by offering free gift wrapping or creating your own bundles of non-holiday items and pricing them together to create a gift,” she added. “Even something as simple as throwing in a free gift box might be enough of an incentive to convert a window shopper into a return customer. This makes it easy for the buyer to give a gift and helps the retailer's conversion.”

Tiffany Cartigiano of Fantasy Lingerie shared her tips for creating in-store displays, echoing the need for seasonal colors and themes, paired with complementary year-round goods.

“Attention-capturing displays are always a good idea for retail and during the holiday season,” she said. “Anything showing giftable potential will certainly capture a buyer’s attention. Creating these attention-grabbing displays around the store will certainly keep a shopper browsing and, in theory, increase the sale with each shopper.”

Retailers recognize the importance of generating traffic to their stores or sites through visual appeal, especially during holidays. Industry experts offered timely insights and suggestions for those retailers with windows to decorate and shelves to draw the eyes of holiday gift-givers.

“We have an incredible POS merchandising display and shelf signage that we’re sharing now with orders,” Penthouse Lingerie’s Stephanie Trachtenberg said. “The display actually has a nearly life-size model featured, and I’m sure she’d look extra hot wearing a Santa or elf hat, so retailers, I encourage you to have fun with it!”

Blush Novelties’ Nancy Cosimini said that the brand is happy to offer items that fit into holiday-themed displays, as well marketing support for retailers.

“We know that retailers usually have dozens of holiday-themed designs and displays that fit well with the collection they have in store,” she said. “At Blush, we are also happy to work with our retailers to get creative with our products and how to market them for the holidays.”

Some manufacturers create products that not only remain strong through the holidays but, given their wide appeal, are also given as gifts throughout the year. Shots America’s Nick Calafati said that the company has made its new Le Desir advent calendar kit more versatile through its packaging.

“It has a reversible holiday sleeve so when the holiday is over you can flip it to the other side, and it can be sold year-round,” he said.

Victoria Nelthropp, marketing and brand coordinator for Clone-A-Willy, said that her company’s novelty kits are designed for visual appeal during the gift-giving season.

“The packaging has the option to stand or hang in stores, which gives retailers and merchandisers a lot of room to create fun and enticing displays, especially during the holidays,” she said. “Our kits naturally draw people in with their label designs and are very self-explanatory with the directions illustrated on the tube to give people an idea of what to expect, not to mention the name alone always gives people a laugh and makes them want to know more.”

NEW FOR THE HOLIDAYS

For the 2021 holiday season, pleasure product manufacturers are unleashing a wide selection of giftable goods.

Brad Owings, VP of sales for Metro Distributors, said that the company is gearing up for the holidays with its own take on the rosebud-shaped oral sex simulator that went viral on social media this year.

“Alchemy Rosebud is an uber-luxe, super-sexy take on the fan-favorite ‘Rose’ air pulse vibrator,” he said. “The packaging itself is a piece of art, adorned with rose gold foil and whimsical positive affirmations set against a beautiful French Provincial-inspired floral pattern. It would actually be a shame to use gift wrap.”

Owings said that the Alchemy Rosebud is gift-ready “and comes packaged with a bunch of surprise goodies.” He added, “Hell, Alchemy even pre-charged them. The brand is all about the experience.”

Noting the popularity of wand massagers for their versatile use both on erogenous zones and on tense muscles, Viben Toys’ Charlette Lopez said that the brand is unveiling its new rechargeable, waterproof wand massager Obsession for the holiday season.

“Not only does this wand boast an 8,500 RPM motor, the perfectly balanced wand feels balanced in your hand with no vibration transfer in the handle,” she said. “The flexible wand head moves and hugs your body wherever you use it and the extended handle makes it easy to reach all your e-zones and sore muscles. Don't take my word for it — Obsession has been quite the hit with all the top influencers and players in the industry.”

For shoppers with a tech-lover on their shopping list, CalExotics is introducing the new My Pod Enhancer. Nichole Grossmann, CalExotics’ director of marketing, says that the device will be as much in demand as the latest smartphone or tablet.

“This vibrating enhancer sets a new standard in smart personal tech,” she said. “The My Pod Enhancer features patent-pending technology that wirelessly charges the enhancer while also sanitizing it. The charging case will blend in with all your other smart devices, making it the perfect gift for any tech-savvy pleasure seeker.”

Tyes By Tara's most giftable new product of the year is a limited edition “Let It Snow” gift set. Tara Acevedo shared, “This limited edition gift set features a rhinestone mesh choker and matching handcuffs displayed on a holiday-inspired hanging merchandising card. Not only is it very eye-catching on display, but it can also be worn and used well after the holidays are over.”

Crystal Delights’ Shellie Yarnell said that the company is introducing three new products for this holiday season, which include crystal, bunny or ponytail options. She noted especially “Our Rainbow Bubbles dildo with its extra-sparkly dichroic end and our exquisite Faceted Implosion Flower Twist dildo, which is my favorite yet of all of our products.”

HOLIDAY PREP

When manufacturers, distributors and retailers work together, it creates a successful holiday season for everyone. Many companies have had the foresight to prepare ahead of time to give customers what they want during the December holiday gift-giving season.

Citing “everything going on in the world and all of the supply chain disruptions” mainly caused by COVID-19, Crystal Delights’ Shellie Yarnell urged retailers to order early.

Well aware of the potential issues, Brad Owings said that Metro’s holiday planning revolved around advance preparation in order to avoid supply shortages.

“We’ve stocked heavily for the back half of the year,” he said. “Additionally, given the increasing needs of retailers during the holiday rush, we have brought on additional regional staff across the country to be available on site for our customers. We always have great pricing and we always have promotions available for our customers. This year has been all about gearing up for supply and service.”

Distributors and manufacturers often create special holiday incentives for their wholesale customers.

“While we feel very strongly about [minimum advertised pricing], we do take a break for Black Friday and Cyber Monday for our retail partners to reward their customers for shopping with them,” Dreamgirl’s Gihan Gabor said.

Xgen’s Andy Green says that the company releases a digital holiday catalog every year that highlights the season’s most anticipated releases. As a bonus, every January, Xgen offers free shipping to its domestic customers. “So they can stock back up on everything after what we hope is a successful holiday season,” he said.

COTR’s Kimberly Scott Faubel said that the company curates its promotions based on the needs and practices of its distribution and retail partners, so no two promotions are alike.

“Preparing for the holidays usually means checking in with our partners to ensure they have the demo/tester items they need in stock, and being on top of our inventory levels so we can fill those bulky orders for the season. We order deep on bestsellers and new releases. The 2021- 2022 holiday season will see the most special editions from Le Wand that we have ever offered — phone lines are open and we are ready for your calls.”

Tara Acevedo suggests a few tips for both store and online owners. “From Black Friday to the end of the year, we offer complimentary gift-wrapping with every online purchase. Since more and more shoppers are using mobile to make purchases, we test the mobile experience from the shoppers’ perspective to make sure that everything is working properly and that promotions are being accurately offered.”

Tyes by Tara also promotes extended payment terms to increase affordability of online orders. “While we offer ShopPay year-round, we especially highlight it during the holidays to increase awareness of this service,” Acevedo said, “and to try and capture all the shoppers on a budget or looking for more payment options so they can shop more.”

This holiday season is the first for pleasure industry newcomer Odile Toys, which entered the market in August.

“We’re focused on preparing our team, and making sure to have the right amount of resources and product inventory to deal with the extra workload,” said Ben Jay, the founder and CEO. “For example, at Odile Toys, we offer a drop-shipping alternative for our B2B customers, which requires seamless coordination with our team. From a marketing perspective we plan to ‘decorate’ our website with a special theme and offer discounts, but our secret weapon is the launch of a new accessory for our dilator which should really excite our clientele.”

As the pages of the calendar flip from back-to-school to Halloween to Thanksgiving and then the December holidays, being prepared for the heavy gift-giving season takes preplanning that begins in the warm summer months. Working in the adult retail industry as manufacturers, distributors, behind-the-counter salespeople at brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers, we all know a satisfied customer is a repeat customer — and the holidays are a chance to satisfy more customers than at any other time. So plan ahead, and may every day in December be a Black Friday.

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