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Love, Sex and Business

How an Erotic Store Went from First Base to a Home Run

Sex games. Erotic lingerie. Furry handcuffs. Lovecraft, an erotic company “celebrating sexuality since 1972,” had two stores and lots of engaging merchandise.

But it also had a challenge: both its Mississauga and Yorkville stores struggled. Their one-size-fits-all approach to managing both stores simply wasn’t working.

By the time the owners approached Growth Path, they were frustrated. They felt they had tried everything but nothing had worked.

Getting to know your visitors better

Before proposing a solution, first we had to understand the situation. That meant studying the unique demographics and sales figures of each store. What sold? Who was buying? For Lovecraft’s owners, the answers came as a revelation.

The Yorkville and Mississauga stores had radically different demographics.

The typical customer at the Yorkville location was a wealthy married woman over the age of 45. She was looking to enrich her relationship, add a little something to spice things up.

In keeping with this demographic, the sensual and erotic items - candles, lingerie, oils - tended to sell much better and customers were willing to pay a premium.

In Mississauga, the reverse was true. Instead of selling higher end accoutrements, they sold mid market costumes and toys.

Their customers, young married couples and single men of diverse ethnicity, preferred the explicit over the romantic. XXX videos sold well. Scented candles didn’t.

A Sexy Solution

Growth Path implemented a sexy three-step solution (I think anything that turns a company around is sexy!):

• First, we restructured the inventories of each store to meet the demands of its particular demographic. This was a relatively painless process that increased efficiency and profitability, particularly at the Mississauga location.

• Second, we tweaked each store’s advertising to better target their customers.

For the Mississauga location, this meant more Mississauga-focused messaging and a greater emphasis on the array of products offered.

For the Yorkville location, this meant branding the store as classy and erotic by placing the right ads in the right publications. Less NOW Magazine. More Post City.

• Third, we got creative. In order to lure more customers to the Yorkville store, we began a quarterly exhibition of erotic art and photography.

It was the perfect excuse for buyers otherwise embarrassed to walk into a sex shop to visit. (They weren’t cruising for erotic toys - they were viewing art.) This bit of marketing ingenuity created a 15% increase in sales, while simultaneously broadening the customer base.

The Climax

The lesson from Lovecraft is simple: Know your customers. Who they are. What they buy. You might be surprised to learn that what works for one location won’t work for another. By strategically targeting your merchandise to the local demographics of each location, you’ll increase sales, enhance profitability and build a loyal customer base.