Game manufacturer Cranium is pushing the boundaries on retail exclusives with its fall 2007 lineup, following up last year’s TRU exclusive for Mega Fort. This time around, the Seattle-based company is launching two of its games exclusively at different retailers.
Four-in-a-row puzzle game Connect-O-Round (US$14.99) will roll out at Toys ‘R’ Us, while 3-D strategy game Triple Triumph (US$19.99) heads to Target.
Cranium’s current motivation to do exclusive business is different than it was 10 years ago, when the company’s namesake game launched in US Starbucks outlets. With a much bigger product line at mass retail, the toyco is experimenting with tailoring products to suit each retailer’s distinct consumer base.
Having experienced strong sales with Cranium’s strategy games in the past, Target approached the company and asked it to create another game in that genre, which led to Triple Triumph, says John Buchanan, VP of channel marketing and sales at Cranium.
Buchanan explains that TRU tends to serve the kids and family market, so for this account, Cranium redesigned a small grab-and-go game it had previously developed so that families could sit around a table and play it together; that’s how Connect-O-Round was born.
Buchanan says Cranium’s retail partnerships extend to merchandising and marketing the exclusive toys as well. The promotional plans for Triple Triumph and Connect-O-Round are still in the works. But last year’s Mega Fort push included a TV spot, unique in-store merchandising and placement, and feature space in Toys ‘R’ Us flyers.
Buchanan says Cranium’s retail partners negotiate specific time frames for their exclusive products, so while some games may be available through one retailer for the entire life cycle of the product, other deals will cover a short period of time, after which broader distribution will kick in.
In 2006, the company experienced a 25% increase in sales and a 60% increase in Craniacs, devoted Cranium fans who belong to an online community the company runs. Part of this uptick can be credited to Mega Fort, so Cranium is talking to all of its major retail partners about future exclusives.