There are a lot of great men out there developing interesting new business ideas and to many, working in the "sex industry" seems like a dream. For Daniel Becker though it was something that he arived at by leveraging traditional e-commerce expertise and simply following the money. Don't worry though, this isn't just some seedy strip club or video studio - Daniel created a store focused specifically on the male customer and helping them connect with various items specifically designed for the male customer. We think that's pretty cool so let's learn more about how and why he created The Enhanced Male!
The Enhanced Male has been around for a few years. How does being an entrepreneur in this space differ from say selling watches or shoes online?
The Enhanced Male has officially been around for roughly 2 years but as mentioned before, this was not my first site in the adult space. It actually was quite a shock when I realized how much more difficult it would be to run a business in the adult market compared to other markets I had been in. My dad's company sold hardware and fasteners (screws, nuts, bolts) so I was used to a very vanilla industry. What came as a shock was how difficult it was to get things done.
For example, it is extremely difficult to find talented people who are willing to work in this industry. It came to a point that I wouldn’t even tell people in job interviews what my company does until after we had built a rapport and even then, most people politely declined the job offers for personal reasons. The same difficulties followed in finding credit card processors, web hosting, email marketing, and a plethora of other areas in my business. I tell people now that we have to literally do twice the work to get the same results as non adult industry companies.
Even today we are still treated differently by Google, Facebook, and the rest of the big tech companies when it comes to marketing.
What do your friends and family think when you tell them what you do?
So why sex toys and enhancements for men?
This is part of a much longer story so I will try and keep it short and sweet.
In 2009 I lost everything I had including my house and only car. At the time I was working for my dad and lets just say things didn’t work out. Becoming homeless and living on couches is quite the motivator. At this point in time, the great recession was in full force so starting a business for the first time seemed a bit out of the question but I did not have a college degree so finding a good job wasn’t really in the cards. I decided to go for it and start my first business but I had no clue as to what. I had always heard that in hard times, drugs, sex, and booze are the things that sold. That gave me a starting point. I was not about to start selling drugs nor booze, so sex seemed like the obvious choice.
I could really only think about porn stars and sex toys, and let's be honest, I am not designed to be a porn star haha. So by process of elimination, sex toys it was. At the time Groupon was the hot new business model so I thought I could start the daily deal model for sex toys but I could never get it off the ground. I started to think about niche markets to find a business model and website which brought me to the personal lubricant market. I became a master at lubricants and sex toys for my next website but I still was not seeing the success that I strived for. I was trying to copy the model that every other ecommerce store followed, try to sell everything to everybody (men, women, couples). It was only then that I started digging into my data and I realized that for my lube site, I had an 80% male to 20% female customer ratio and that's when the light bulb for The Enhanced Male went off.
I dug around and saw that this was a very underserved market so I sold my lube site, launched The Enhanced Male, and the rest as they, is history.
Got any tips for men who have never bought a toy before?
Your store is pretty unique in that it is focused exclusively on men, why did you make this choice and how has it helped build your customer base?
Once I became more data focused in my previous website I learned that I had an overwhelmingly male dominated customer base. This had gone against literally everything I ever thought about. I always expected my customers to be predominantly female. At this point I really started digging in to researching the market and I saw that men were being wildly underserved.
Most sites would have categories like dildos, vibrators, rabbits, and then a small category for men. I made the decision that since my previous site looked, felt, and really spoke to the female market and I still had more men than women buying, I might as well start fresh and give this market the attention it deserves. This has been the best decision I have made in my business career so far. Once I built a new site for men, everything really took off. We have had a great a reception from men all across the globe. We are giving men the attention they deserve, rather than being an afterthought like the rest of the sites. Not that we have anything against women but you will never find a women’s product on The Enhanced Male.
Do you have any stats you can share on the industry - who's buying them and are they for "solo" pleasure or as part of a couple's romantic time?
Unfortunately I am not the best with industry stats.
The last time I had checked women were still the dominant buyers of adult novelties, it was roughly a 60/40 split. The overwhelming majority of all sex toys purchased are for masturbation purposes. The number one sex toy for men is the Fleshlight which seems to be widening the gap behind the second most popular sex toy for men which is the Aneros prostate massager. With that being said you would think masturbators or prostate massagers would be the best selling category of toys for men but in aggregate, cock rings are the number one selling product category of sex toys for men. After the 50 Shades of Grey movie came out, BDSM/Bondage and kegel ball sales had a HUGE spike but has dropped back down and leveled off since.
From conversations with some of my male friends, this subject usually brings back memories of novelty inflatable dolls at frat parties or "scary stuff" designed for an advanced user. What's the reality today?
Haha, this is always fun. I am always the guy who gets the calls from friends or friends of friends when there is a prank to be played or bachelor party being thrown. While we don’t sell any of the scary stuff or novelty stuff anymore, they are both still a huge driver of sales in the industry.
A few of the biggest brands in our industry are focused on heavy BDSM. Prank stuff will always be around, especially the blow up dolls. More recently one of the big manufacturers started making blow up dolls that mock celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian. Those sold pretty well on my old site. Maybe it’s not new but its new to me that products are becoming much more extreme. I could get into details but that’s probably best left alone.
I'm sure you get a lot of questions from customers. What are some of the most common concerns guys share with you while shopping?
We get quite a bit of questions from customers but they are all generally the same. First off, customers are very concerned, and rightfully so, about having their packages shipped in a discreet manner. The Enhanced Male’s packages are shipped 100% discreetly, including the shipping label. Aside from ripping the package open, it would be impossible to know what’s inside.
Other common questions are, is it safe to use a penis pump? What is the strongest over the counter delay spray? Men are genuinely concerned about their penis size and their performance in bed but more so, it seems they are concerned about their own health first. Nobody wants to put their health at risk for a bigger penis or better sex. We see a lot of men with sexual anxiety which is too bad. Our customer service reps sometimes double up as a therapist on the phone or through email. We are really here to help men, even if we don't get the sale.
What's the future of this industry and what are some trends you're seeing specifically regarding the male consumer?
The future of the industry seems to be heading into the world of technology. There are more app and bluetooth driven devices than ever before.
We are also starting to see masturbators coming out that connect to VR and even to live cam models. I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon. While you can add all the technology you want to these items, especially in items for men, the products are still the same as their archaic counterparts. Bluetooth cock rings are still cock rings to restrict blood in the penis and vibrate for both the person wearing and their partner. App driven penis pumps are designed to still create a negative vacuum in the cylinder which will draw blood in and engorge the tissue. It’s just bells and whistles in my opinion.
Lastly, we are starting to see more masturbators being molded after Instagram models now. It used to be porn stars but these riskay IG models are the hot new trend.
This industry is moving so fast it's amazing. Are sales growing accordingly or is everyone just rushing to create more product for guys hoping that we see growth in the industry?
The Industry is moving quite fast but you nailed it, the market size is not increasing at the same rate as new products or companies are coming in. If you look at products, so many companies are using the same molds now and just changing one thing here or there. The same thing goes for lubricants, how many lube brands do we really need out there? I see Amazon as being a major factor in this rapid release of new brands and products. Its really deceptive towards the customers in my opinion.