September 2003 | Vol. II - No. 9
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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 hasn’t changed.
Founded in 1983 by Warren Holland, Decipher originally made puzzles.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.
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 programs.
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 Hobby Master.
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