Thursday, February 5, 2009

I had a neat experience this week. I was at one of the major retailers visiting the puzzle aisle. I am loath to admit how much time I spend in puzzle aisles. For the most part, I can not visit a retail establishment without going down the puzzle aisle.

When I am in the aisle I am looking at the images, box designs, prices, puzzle sizes, who made the puzzle and just anything that looks different. I even take notes and keep track of retail prices at different establishments. It is cheap and effective market research.

Often I encounter people buying puzzles. It only takes me a minute to start talking to them. I learn so much from these chance meetings.

This week I met a couple who have put together 16 puzzles since Thanksgiving. They are not really brand loyal, but only want to do 500 or more piece puzzles. We spent about 30 minutes looking at every puzzle on the shelves. They had done many of them and knew the pros and cons of each. It was so interesting. And I think they got a kick out of talking to someone who makes puzzles. One thing they reminded me was that when you do so many puzzles a year, you worry about the price of the puzzle. They were very price conscious and would not look at a puzzles over a certain price point. This is a little counter intuitive from conventional wisdom.

But it makes sense. Puzzles are sold primarily in the 4th and 1st quarters of the year. When its cold outside, people are looking for indoor activities. But it is people like the couple I met who are buying puzzles the rest of the year (and there are people who are buying puzzles the rest of the year). The retailers would be smart to keep the heavy puzzle user in mind to build and sustain sales year round.

If you see a guy looking at every single puzzle in the puzzle aisle, writing notes and talking to himself, stop me and say hello. Or if you think of something you wish puzzle companies would do better/different/more drop me a note.


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