A-Rouse got the chance to talk to some of the team that created the Magma Phoenix, the hottest sex toy you can buy. No, really, The Phoenix vibrator is heated by a reversible chemical reaction. When it`s cool the vibe is soft and pliable, but click the metal disk inside and it becomes hard and heats up in just a few seconds. When you`ve finished enjoying the vibrator you can return it its soft state by boiling it in water for twenty minutes.
We talked to two of the Magma team. Initially I grilled Steve over a bed of hot Phoenix vibrators:
Alex: So this is Magma`s first Valentine`s Day, when did the first Phoenix leave the factory?
Steve: Starting a new business is probably a bit like becoming a dad for the first time: you remember memorable dates – first steps, first words and when your child learns to ride a bicycle â€“ very clearly. The first Phoenix â€“ excluding prototypes â€“ was created on 20 November 2007 and the first Phoenix was sold a mere four days after.
Alex: The Phoenix is unique, right, a product of British ingenuity?
Steve: The Phoenix is the first truly hot vibrator and the technology is patent-protected. However, being unique is meaningless unless the innovation is truly appreciated and so far we have had considerable favourable comments from consumers, trade and the press.
Alex: But the Phoenix didn’t just appear, how long did it take Magma to design, develop, and test the product before going into full production?
Steve: Because of the unique nature of the product, the Phoenix had quite a long gestation period and it took two years before we were satisfied with our research and development. From our nascent product research stage to launching the product and beyond, we have tried to be extremely mindful of the needs and concerns of the user. The packaging and product was designed in consultation with an experienced and very frank group of sex toy users. Some of their valuable suggestions required nuanced changes to the Phoenix and others simply suggested that we definitely had something very unique and worthwhile.
Alex: So how did you find out how the product would be received by the consumer?
Steve: We have run several focus groups to-date and still find this method of research extremely useful. Initially we could have employed a professional marketing research agency but were constrained by costs and liberated by a firm belief that we could find representatives of our target market.
We began by discussing all the females that we knew and outlining how we perceived their response to our products would be. This was a particular fun exercise and enabled us to look at people we know from different perspectives. This exercise enabled us to understand that our focus sample needed to consist of experienced and novice sex toy users and non-users.
Our next step was to request that our female friends and colleagues identify and convince potential panel members from their circle of contacts. We also thought about canvassing people on the high street but thought this might prove to be highly sensitive and thus found other members in more casual environments like the pub.
We were surprised by the candidness and insightfulness of the panel members and realised that this was something we need to build upon. We continue to find the experience extremely useful and now make a concerted effort to maintain direct links with customers and potential customers. The new Magma Friends Network on the website was designed specifically for this purpose. Although it`s still in its early stages we have great plans for this.
Alex: Was it difficult getting financial and technical support from banks and suppliers when you tell them about the product? Or do they just regard it as simply another manufacturing process?
Steve: Well, most of these conversations seemed to go through a recognisable 4 stage process: Surprise â€“ â€˜You make vibrators?` Amusement â€“ â€˜And it`s heated?` Admiration â€“ â€˜It`s definitely unique. Desire â€“ â€˜Can we have a few samples?` Eventually any decision on becoming a supplier or provide business services were inevitably made for rational business reasons.
Alex: When you tell your friends and family what you produce how do they react? Do you tell them?
Steve: I definitely tell them â€“ you can`t create a new product and expect it to be successful if you`re not proud of it. I`m often surprised by the reaction of people. My Mom is training to be a vicar and will happily enquire about the Phoenix, whereas some other people who lead â€“ let`s just say very liberal lifestyles â€“ have been extremely shocked and find it quite difficult to talk about.
Alex: Does Magma have other products in the pipeline, and can you tell us what they are?
There are other products currently in development, but for now we are concentrating our efforts on ensuring that the Phoenix is a success and supporting our customers.
If there`s one thing that our conversation with the people at Magma conveyed it is that they are an enthusiastic, vital group of people. While talking to Steve, Phil was bouncing around in the background bursting to express his enthusiasm for the phoenix, a product that the whole team believe in.
Alex: OK, Phil, so would you describe the Phoenix as unique.
Phil: Absolutely, the Phoenix is new and totally different from anything else on the market.
Alex: How does anyone arrive at an idea as original as the Phoenix?
Phil: Beppe, our MD, was initially inspired to create the Phoenix on a cold afternoon, out walking. He had a heating pack with him to stop his extremities from turning blue. The idea started there.
Alex: Magma have turned that seed of an idea into an amazing product, and one that looks good too.
Phil: Yes, we`ve worked with the focus groups as Steve has already mentioned to deliver something that the end user will want to use and enjoy.
Alex: A lot of thought has gone into the product, even the packaging, it`s very different from the standard sex toy packaging.
Phil: We wanted something that would stand out from the rest of the stock in retail stores. It had to be something that people wanted to buy for themselves or their partner.
Alex: Is it easy for the stores to understand the Phoenix and then communicate this to the customers?
Phil: It`s a new concept which sometimes necessitated helping the retailer to communicate its unique benefits to the consumer. Part of the problem is that on the shelf it is very difficult to demonstrate how unique it is, so we have spent considerable time advising our retail partners to take time to demonstrate the Phoenix to customers. In general they have found that once a customer activates a Phoenix and sees the chemical reaction they are invariably impressed.
Alex: That does make an impact when you see it.
Phil: The solution for one of our stockists is to have a camping stove in a back room and constantly have a few of the Phoenix Vibrators in the process of being “recharged”, or soft and cool, ready to demonstrate.
Alex: So the UK are getting the idea about the Phoenix, what about the rest of the world?
Phil: The US are giving us great feedback, we expect great things over there. We`re already in the German market and working on Italy and the rest of the continent.
In addition to that we have three new colours available soon, to add to the three already available. And of course we have other developments â€¦
Well I can`t say much about them now but we`re already working on some products to expand our range.
Alex: Can we see them, maybe try them out?
Phil: Sorry, not yet but don`t worry they`ll be worth the wait.