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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.