From creating puzzling whodunits to some of the hottest trading card
games around, Decipher (ToyDirectory)
has garnered a loyal following in its 20 years of business. While its
product lines may have shifted, Decipher’s commitment to its customers
Founded in 1983 by Warren Holland, Decipher originally made puzzles.
Three years later they introduced How to Host A Murder,
a dinner party game. Soon, games were Decipher's bread and butter.
Lord of the Rings
Today, Decipher's biggest sellers include the hugely popular Lord
of the Rings and Star Trek collectible card
games (CCGs) and role-playing games (RPGs). The cards are collectible
as well as playable. Decipher prints common, uncommon, rare versions and
even foil versions of most cards, providing a wide variety to collect.
Who buys Decipher products? Kendrick Summers, Decipher's marketing manager
states, "Our principal market is the 18-36 age range, students or
young professionals. Our games are also family activities. Fathers play
them with their sons, mothers [play] with their children."
"We are attached to popular properties," Summers adds. “Our
licenses extend for several years. We have big plans for long-term support
of all of our products."
While some companies are cutting out the retail middleman in favor of
direct sales to consumers, Decipher sees retailers as a critical part
of a grass roots marketing chain. "We excel in our ability to have
a relationship with our customers,” Summers says. “Decipher succeeds because
we get people to think of us as people, and not as a building."
Decipher fosters strong relationships with retailers with its Preferred
Retailer Program. Preferred retailers receive a newsletter giving a heads-up
on new Decipher products and plans. They also get a direct line of communication
for information and opportunities to participate in Decipher's point-of-sales
Lord of the Rings Trading Card
Decipher also builds enthusiasm through corporate-sponsored traveling
contests. Stops at a store carrying Decipher products draw participants
from great distances. 2003’s Dark Rider tour illustrated
the benefits of this approach. The stop in Houston drew players from Dallas
and Austin, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La. Participants got a limited edition
card for the Lord of the Rings collectible card game and an opportunity
to win prizes, and the hosting retailer got a swarm of customers. As a
result, many participants bought cards from the retailer.
Decipher limits participation in its Preferred Retailer to “brick-and-mortar”
stores. Not that the company scorns the virtual marketplace — Decipher
has an extensive online store at their website — rather, as Summers
puts it, "Bricks and mortar provide additional value to the consumer.
When they sell our product, it helps us."
Decipher is confident about the future. "We are here to stay,"
concludes Summers, "and we are going to have plenty of surprises
and treats for our valued retailers."
To become a Preferred Retailer contact Kendrick Summers (757-664-1143,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). E-mail works best because Summers spends
much of his time on the road, working with retailers. He was one of nine
Decipher representatives on the Dark Rider tour.
Writer's Bio: When Mark Lardas says something
isn't rocket science, he knows. His career spans both space and e-commerce.
His down-to-earth interests include models and writing. He combines both
of these in articles for modeling magazines and as Boy's Life's