Lovehoney’s Newest Fifty Shades of Grey

By on November 27, 2019

In September, Lovehoney held a lowkey event at their increasingly shiny and sprawling headquarters in Bath, England. In attendance were a cross-section of UK journalists, bloggers and affiliates, eager to be talked through the British behemoth’s latest products from lingerie to lube.

Synergy headed directly to the Trade area to have a chat with MPD Coordinator for Sex Toys Lauren Dobson about what Lovehoney had in store for its partners further afield.

Laid out across Lauren’s table were two dozen brand new Fifty Shades of Grey products. In black and silver packaging, these twenty-four black and silver items were organised into four different sub-collections named Pleasure Overload (with a purple flash across the box), Inner Goddess (blue flash), Greedy Girl (burgundy) and Relentless Vibrations (pink flash). Each of these contained six products under one theme.

Lauren talked us through the concept, explaining that from their extensive catalogue Lovehoney had, “taken the four best-selling toys: so, the best-selling kit, the best-selling Kegel ball, the best-selling remote control toy, the best-selling vibrator, and then created sub-collections around each one under the Fifty Shades name.”

Brandishing the Greedy Girl, recently repackaged to fit in with the rest of the new silver and black Fifty Shades range, Lauren continued, “So for example, out of the Rabbit vibrator category, the iconic Greedy Girl G-Spot is the best-selling rabbit and overall the best-selling toy within the whole Fifty Shades section. So obviously that was a no-brainer – we were definitely going to do a collection around the Greedy Girl.”

International Sales Manager Kate Hodgson-Egan agreed, calling the Greedy Girl G-Spot Rabbit Vibrator “the Holy Grail of Sex Toys” and pointing out its 668 5-star online customer reviews. Having put the Rabbit through its paces from a professional standpoint, Synergy made a mental note to make this up to 669.

Lauren explained, “We analyse sales so we know what works best, we talk to the Trade team to see what people have asked for, or what they’d like to see, and what the Trade team would think would be good. Because their customers’ feedback is valuable to us, especially since we don’t get their reviews online like our other customer feedback. So, we work really closely with the Trade team. And with that in mind we’ve added five other Rabbits to the Greedy Girl. We think the Thrusting Rabbit will be the second biggest seller from this mini collection. We’ve done thrusting toys before, and from our experience with the Happy Rabbit range we know a Thrusting Rabbit sells really well. Hence why we think alongside the Greedy Girl it’ll be our next biggest seller.”

Kate concurred, “We do really, really well with our Thrusting product within our Happy Rabbit collection, so all of our Greedy Girl customers were ecstatic to see a Thrusting Greedy Girl within Fifty Shades.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that E.L. James herself has a hand in the products Lovehoney brings out, working closely with Product Development Director Bonny Hall. Lauren described the process for us, “It’s a really collaborative thing: Erika helps with all the developments, she sees the samples and the packaging, tells us what she likes and doesn’t like, and it’s signed off once she’s happy with it.”

So Lauren, does this latest Fifty Shades launch mean author E.L. James has another book in the series coming out? “If there is, it’s probably a safely-guarded secret by Erika. As far as we’re concerned, this release was because there’s still more we can do with Fifty Shades: it’s a really popular brand, and the technology as well as the really good quality is what people love about it.”

According to Hodgson-Egan, “All the Fifty Shades was really well-received. Last year we only launched the advent calendar, so people were asking us for new products. But last year E.L. James took the year off, which obviously restricted us as she has to approve everything.”

While James’ time away from sex toy development involved penning another international bestseller (called The Mister, if you’re interested), Lovehoney’s development team had a challenge ready for her return, namely, “What is the best-selling Kegel Ball, and how can we develop that further?”

Well, the “Hero” product in this case turned out to be the original Fifty Shades Silver Pleasure Balls, but as Kate observed, “You needed to be quite an advanced user – or expert! – to be able to hold the 221 g of the original Kegels. So, we’re really excited to have brought out the mini version at 85g. We’ve now tried to ensure we’ve covered all category of weight.” Lauren confirmed that, “now across the six Kegel trainers in the Inner Goddess there’s a weight and size for everyone, starting at 67g.”

And the Relentless Vibrations collection? Lauren: “The best-selling remote-control item was the silver Love Egg. Remote-control toys are always very popular. But my favourite is the Remote Knicker Vibrator as it’s the smallest panty vibrator we’ve done, so it’s discreet but very powerful – as the Fifty Shades line always is – and it’s very slick-looking and stylish, with the same black and silver theme as the rest of the brand.” Synergy received a small but perfectly formed sample and can confirm its appeal: Lovehoney’s Fifty Shades Knicker Vibrator is genuinely the best panty vibrator we’ve tried, remote-controlled or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the original multi-item kit was the Fifty Shades Freed 10 Days of Play, now available under the Pleasure Overload banner. As Lauren pointed out, “These kits are great for gifts as they’re beautifully packaged and you have everything there. If you’re inquisitive it’s a good way of introducing things. And it’s generally better value for money.”

Synergy was given the Pleasure Overload Wicked Weekend set to test. This comprised a compact G-Spot vibrator, smart Vibrating Adjustable Love Ring and a Reversible cock stroker. Together these proved the perfect combination for what the blurb on the box described as “an erotic adventure”. Whoever suggested romance was dead clearly hadn’t found the right travel set for a mucky weekend away!

We asked Lauren how to go about creating a kit: is it purely a matter of putting together a varied cross-section of products? “The Take It Slow 4-piece anal kit is a combination of items that sell well, but there’s also progression for the user. We’ve tried to cater for people no matter what the relationship, sexual preference, or gender identification.” Aha! Good thinking. “Personally, I’d go for the Greedy Girl Play Box, which is a five-piece with the best of all worlds. But say someone’s not into sex toys at all – or not into penetration – then the Delicious Tingles kit with its natural menthol tingle balm and bullet vibrator is not intimidating at all.” And yet, rather cleverly it’s also for the sex-toy fanatic who has everything else!

Kate had a similar perspective, “Gift sets are always great: the kits sell well at Christmas, and all year as gifts – as generally speaking they save the customer money. These Pleasure Overload kits span the $30 price point to $130. Our Greedy Girl kit is going to be very popular. We do really well with the Ten Days of Play which had the ten windows, so we’re very pleased with the Sweet Sensation kit which comes with seven windows at a lower price point. It’s softer, with massage products and candles – no sex toys. It’s a really good entry-level kit both in terms of price and for people new to sex toys.”

So, any favourites from across the four sub-collections? Lauren, “Well, we mentioned the 221g Silver Pleasure Balls in the Inner Goddess range was the original item, but the 90g Colour-Changing Jiggle Balls is fun, quite new for sex toys and a nice concept – and it’s really good quality silicone. The Kegel balls change colour when they heat up with body temperature and change back again when it cools. The colour-changing aspect was a success in a previous range of balls we made so, like the Thrusting Rabbit which originally came under the Happy Rabbit range, we combined an already-successful concept with the Fifty Shades brand.” Kate agreed, “The colour-changing balls have been really well-received at shows. They’re just something a bit different which are really great to show in-store as a talking-point.”

OK, so most of the items in this new launch are previously tried-and-tested toys re-worked and re-released as Fifty Shades products, but are there any previously unseen products in this latest Lovehoney launch? Lauren: “There’s an extremely powerful Bullet Rabbit vibrator [in the Greedy Girl range] which is something we’ve never done before.” An original take on an old favourite: crafty! “And of course, the Relentless Panty Vibe comes in a completely new format. This time it needed to be slimline, pack a punch on the power but to be comfortable to wear. As always this went through human testing and had proper feedback at each stage, being tweaked along the way before it went into production.”

Kate: “The PantyVibe is my particular favourite as it’s very different to anything else on the market. It’s really nice to see it ready to launch and our partners buying it. We’ve had lots of 3D prints on the desks over the last two years, so after little tweaks here and little tweaks there it’s nice to finally see it in its full glory.”

When I asked whether E.L. James taking a year off the Fifty Shades treadmill worked in Lovehoney’s favour, Kate had this to say, “Well, we don’t want to bring product out just for the sake of bringing product out, it’s got to have a different USP from the existing collection. We want to offer something to all our customers from the beginner to the advance level.”

And what do Lovehoney have to offer their international partners? “We’ve revamped our packaging for everything to look streamlined in their own individual collections and also as a whole. We’ve got updated, printable Point of Sale which will be available, and are working with our distributors with the more bespoke stores – so for example, if a store wanted to have a dedicated Fifty Shades area in-store then we’ve got some new flat-lay images which we can use to skin people’s walls.”

In terms of a takeaway regarding Lovehoney’s latest product ranges, MPD Coordinator Lauren concluded, “It’s all really high quality with great functionality: rechargeable where it can be rechargeable, made of quality silicone and metal materials – because everyone knows Fifty Shades is luxury. Which is also represented visually with the elegant silver and black colour theme. We’re all very excited about it.” Meanwhile, Lovehoney’s International Sales Manager Kate cut straight to the chase, “In Australia we’re working with our usual distributors, AAPD and Calvista. Just buy it, buy it, buy it!” she laughed.

It’s likely Lovehoney will be laughing all the way to the bank, as they and E.L. James have outdone themselves with this most recent release. After all, if these twenty-four items are the result of a fallow period – during which no new Fifty Shades book or film was produced – then stakes are high for the ten-year anniversary of the first book, coming up in 2021. Watch this space…

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