Analysis: 2020 Was a Banner Year for Board & Card Games. What Will 2021 Hold?

Pattern Data Science

November 12, 2021

The holidays are upon us, which means that, for a lot of people, board game season is really ramping up. Shorter days, colder weather, and more time with family makes for a perfect time to break out an old favorite game, or to stock up on new games to give away as gifts.

With gametime on our minds, we wanted to dig into our data to learn more about the state of board games across the country. Did all the extra time spent at home during the height of the pandemic drive big sales for board games? If so, which games got the biggest pandemic bump? How big is the holiday shopping season? And which games have been the most (and least) popular over the past couple years?

We dove deep into our data to answer these questions and more.

Which board and card games have been the most popular so far this year?

There are countless types of games out there. From highly complex and intricate, to simple and broad, there’s certainly a game out there for you and your tastes. But which ones have been the hottest sellers this year?

Check and mate. When it comes to popular games, there’s no unseating the king, and chess has been far and away the most popular game this year.

The classic card game Uno, with its simple rules and low price point, wasn’t far behind in the #2 spot, however.

Another card game, the ever-popular Pokemon, was a strong number three, ahead of three standard board games: Clue, Risk, and Monopoly.

After a strong #7 spot for playing cards, we round out the top ten with Jenga, Dominos, and Settlers of Catan.

So there’s your leaderboard for the most popular games of 2021 so far. But what about last year? What kind of impact has the pandemic had on demand for board and card games?

What kind of impact did COVID-19 have on sales for board and card games?

Many of us have spent a lot of time at home since March of last year, so have board and card games seen demand skyrocket as a result? If so, which games were the ones that got the biggest quarantine boost?

Let’s start with a really broad look at monthly demand for all the board and card games in our analysis starting in 2019.

There’s absolutely no question that the first months of lockdowns and social distancing resulted in a huge surge in online demand for board and card games. March 2020 saw a 52% increase in demand vs the same month in 2019, while April experienced a 34% increase.

Demand then fell to just below 2019’s levels by June, but we saw a mostly stronger holiday shopping season last year as well.

2021 started the year with demand ahead of any previous year, but, as you’d expect, it failed to live up to last year’s huge springtime surge. October did see a slight increase in demand compared to last year, though, suggesting we might be in store for all-time high demands this holiday shopping season.

To put an even finer point on just how big the beginning of the pandemic was for demand for board and games, here’s a look at weekly demand since January 2020:

The first weeks of lockdowns saw online demand for board and card games surge to levels typically reserved for the height of the holiday shopping season.

Which board and card games got the biggest early pandemic boost?

Now that we’ve established how big March and April 2020 were for board and card games, we next wanted to see which ones were the most in-demand. To find out, we took demand for each game during those two months and compared it to demand during the same months in 2019.

Here were the top 15 biggest winners:

If you thought that a real-life pandemic would deter people from playing a board game called “Pandemic”—think again. The game, in which players work to discover cures to a deadly pandemic, saw a stunning 469% increase in demand in March and April last year compared to the same months in 2019.

The family-favorite game of Scattergories was next on the list, with an impressive 223% increase in demand. Other family-friendly games saw demand more than double, including Phase 10, Life, and Pictionary.

Those months were so big for board and card games that only a few in our analysis didn’t experience a year-over-year increase in demand: Sorry (-25%), Exploding Kittens (-19%), Azul (-19%), and Connect Four (-9%).

The real story, of course, is the success of Pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at monthly demand for that game:

There’s no doubting that the game enjoyed prolonged popularity throughout all of last year, with it receiving a substantial holiday season bump as well.

Here’s a weekly view, for an even closer look:

Demand for the game actually picked up in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, dipped slightly during the first week of shutdowns, then skyrocketed immediately after.

The popularity does appear to have been somewhat short lived, however, as 2021 has seen demand drop to 2019 levels for most of the year.

Which board and card games get the biggest holiday shopping season bump?

With the holiday shopping season approaching, we next wanted to see if there are games that get especially large bumps during the holiday shopping season last year. To avoid this figure being skewed by the early COVID surge, we decided to take average demand for November and December and compare it to average demand during the summer months (July through September).

Here’s what we found:

Last holiday shopping season, chess was the hottest item by far, seeing demand surge by 225% during the holidays compared to the summertime average. We have a theory as to what was driving chess’s shocking success, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Other big winners were Pictionary, Ticket to Ride, Trivial Pursuit, and Chutes and Ladders. Again, Pandemic experienced a significant holiday surge even despite it’s mega popularity during the spring.

The holidays were so big for board and card games that only two of them in our analysis failed to see demand increase during the holidays: Risk (-2%) and Uno (-3%).

Let’s take a closer look at chess, as something pretty interesting appeared to drive its demand to new heights.

Hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit drove a huge surge in holiday shopping demand for chess last year

That’s right, our analysis strongly suggests that The Queen’s Gambit, a hit Netflix series that premiered in October 2020, was why chess received a larger holiday shopping bump than any other game in our analysis.

Let’s start by examining monthly demand for chess since 2019:

As you can see, chess saw demand go up during the holidays in 2019, but to a much, much lesser degree than the incredible surge we saw in 2020.

To put it into perspective, demand in November and December 2019 were 36% and 79% higher than the summertime average that year. In 2020, November and December saw demand surge to a stunning 204% and 222% above the summertime average.

In fact, the show’s popularity bled into this year as well, with demand remaining quite high in January and February, and even outpacing the early pandemic bump we saw in March and April.

A look at weekly demand serves to bolster this hypothesis:

The Queen’s Gambit released on Netflix on October 13th, 2020, and by the week of October 25th, demand had increased by 114% compared to the week before the series came out. By the week of December 6th, demand for chess had surged to a whopping 301% over where it was before the series premiered.

While demand has evened out, it has remained consistently higher throughout 2021, and while we wouldn’t expect it to match the heights we saw last year, we expect the category to receive at least a moderate bump this holiday shopping season.

Which games appear to be on track for a strong 2021 holiday shopping season?

Lastly, we wanted to see if any of the games in our analysis were performing particularly well this year as we head into the holiday shopping season. To determine this we compared demand during September and October 2021 to the same months in 2020.

Here were the games that saw the biggest year-over-year increases in demand during those time frames:

Settlers of Catan appears to be particularly hot this year, at least heading into the holiday shopping season, with demand up 94% during the months heading into the holidays this year.

Hungry Hungry Hippos and Ticket to Ride were next on the list, with Connect Four and chess rounding out the top five.

Let’s take a closer look at Settlers of Catan:

Demand for the game surged in May and has remained high the rest of the year as we enter into the holiday shopping season. If we see a similar holiday shopping surge for the game this year as we have the previous two years, then many shoppers may find themselves having a hard time finding the game if they don’t act fast!

A lesson for brands

This year’s holiday shopping season is shaping up to be yet another big one for board and card games of all types. And considering the supply chain issues on the horizon, we wouldn’t be surprised to see all types of board games struggling to stay on the shelves.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, a hit TV show might drive one of the world’s oldest games to new heights of popularity, or a worldwide pandemic might actually increase sales for a board game about a deadly disease. Or an already popular game like Settlers of Catan may simply be setting up for a surprise surge in demand.

Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these trends and more in the coming weeks and months.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us