If you’re an avid reader of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , you’ll often find interesting marketing related content around sectors such as FMCG, eCommerce, technology, electronics, fashion and beauty, insurance, financial institutions and many others. These are the players most often found communicating to your everyday consumers.
While there are many interesting activations in these industries, the team at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also wanted to shine the spotlight on what marketing means in industries that we don't often cover in our day to day news.
This week, we launched a new podcast series titled “Not your usual” on our MARKETING CONNECTED channel and featured individuals from industries or companies that you might not often hear from. These brands have had to think out of the box to find interesting ways to catch the attention of consumers.
We kick off this podcast series with a no holds barred conversation with Cecile Gasnault (pictured), brand director at Ramblin' Brands which is the creator of female sexual wellness brand Smile Makers.
Ramblin' Brands was founded in Asia by two European founders with the purpose of creating unique brands in concept and in design, in niche consumer goods categories. According to its LinkedIn page, Ramblin' Brands now has over 4,000 stores in 11 markets including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Hong Kong.
Smile Makers works with sexual health experts to develop Science-backed content for its Instagram page. Its Instagram content is fun and lighthearted yet informative, and the brand also offers online courses, tools and guides, a podcast series, as well as blog posts to educate individuals on the topic of female sexual health and wellness.
In this episode, Gasnault shares how Smile Makers is normalising conversations around female sexual wellness with its marketing.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Tell us about your brand and what you do.
Gasnault: I am the brand director for sexual wellness brand Smile Makers. We create vibrators and lubricants for women and sell them in mainstream retail outlets. In Singapore, for example, you can find us at Guardian and Watsons. Personally, my role at Smile Makers is to grow the brand with our community, such as people following our Instagram or our customers. We want to ensure that the offering we develop for them is really relevant to what they are looking for but at the same time also developing pleasure innovation.
This means ensuring that we look for the best technology available in the market and creating shapes and functionalities that are the most relevant based on the latest research on female sexuality. Thereafter, we will develop the content strategy for Smile Makers. We have ongoing conversations with our community; we are always asking them questions and they are asking us too about human sexuality. We are also ensuring that we have Science-backed content to answer all those questions. I also develop a sexual education programme which we deploy through a free online course. We run workshops too.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: You have a wide range of activities to educate the community. How else is marketing helping the brand gain awareness?
Gasnault: In our category, we are very restricted in terms of what we can do for marketing. This means we don't have access to Facebook or Instagram ads. Even Google Display Network is complicated for us to access, and that also has a lot to do with the fact that we are a sexual wellness brand. But we know that we are the only sexual wellness brand that is completely focused on bringing the category and conversations around human sexuality into mainstream spaces.
We don't sell in traditional sex shops and we don't advertise in adult spaces. We really want to be where people are looking for information about their health, beauty or lifestyle. So our marketing is very content driven.
It's really about creating an organic pull towards the brand rather than a push because we are very limited in terms of push.
But I think it's also a bit of a blessing in disguise because not being able to push out traditional advertising has forced us to really ask ourselves the question: "Are we sure that we're creating something of value?" And in terms of marketing, can we create something that will draw people towards the brand and create word of mouth for Smile Makers because the content is useful, interesting and of value to their well-being? That's why our strategy is really heavily reliant on content.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What other red tapes do you face when it comes to marketing?
Gasnault: In our category, we are going against long-standing taboos and stigmas, and long-standing sexism. We work directly with publishers sometimes but by default, we have a hard time doing plug and play with the biggest advertising platforms because first, we cannot do advertising on this category. And strangely enough, we have seen sexual wellness brands do advertising on Facebook but they sell male products, such as erectile dysfunction drugs but they will not allow any female sexual wellness brand to advertise. So it has more to do with double standards.
Another example, which I find is a very strange one, is when we wanted to do email marketing. We were told that our category was blacklisted and the company behind the email marketing solution would not agree for us to use their tool even though we are sending emails to people who have been to our website and subscribed to our newsletters and our content.
That is why we believe that the work we are doing in normalising the perception of female sexual wellness, and by extension the perception of human sexuality is going to open up more channels in the future.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some unconventional marketing tactics you've carried out that really helped with your brand awareness?
Gasnault: We have interesting names for our products such as the tennis pro, the firefighter, the poet, the ballerina, and the French lover. People always smile when they hear these names and that's very intentional. That's really for them to literally feel more comfortable about having the conversation around sexual wellness.
Also, when we were designing our products, we surveyed thousands of women worldwide about their fantasies and we kept the most popular fantasies in the product names. Over the years, we've also been collecting female fantasies and turned them into short stories. So similar to audio erotica, these short stories have driven a lot of traffic from female audiences looking to read or listen to audio erotica. They are a very relevant audience for us because they are engaging in masturbation so they are going to discover the whole ecosystem of Smile Makers as well as products and sex education. They have a whole tool box with the brand to explore, including sex education by sexual health experts.