The importance of top quality prizes in the FEC landscape cannot be overstated. Darrell Simmonds, EMEA sales manager at Bandai Namco, comments how an appreciation of this can pay great dividends for operators.
Coinslot: Probably one of the more underestimated areas of an operation, how important are prizes to the arcade gaming experience?
Darrell Simmonds: “The prizes are as important as the games. Even though the customer has had a great time in the arcade, they can feel let down without a good range of prizes at all ticket values. If they go home with a good quality prize, they have something to remember the time/money spent and this will encourage them to make repeat visits. Most tickets have ‘save your tickets for bigger better prizes’ printed on them and this is what you want – for the customer to see that must-have prize and to keep coming back until they have achieved it. We have a wide range of licenses including PACMAN, DC Comics, and Halo: Fireteam Raven with many high quality prizes to choose from in different ticket values from branded confectionary to branded electronics.”
CS: The prize offering has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. With the marketplace always aiming for the top grade prize, how important do you feel it is to hold a broad range of merchandise to best suit operators?
DS: “We hold the complete line-up to stock any arcade, we have prizes of all ticket ranges/genre and ages from branded confectionary such as Cadbury through to high-end electrical items likes ibomb speakers and headphones. Not only do we offer all the prizes we also supply the redemption tickets, ticket eaters, stock management system, cashless system and of course some of the best redemption machines on the market. It is essential for our customers to know that they can get everything they need from us at the best quality and price points.”
CS: More and more machine types are integrating ticketing options, has this had a positive impact on the merchandise market?
DS: “Yes, this has helped to build up the redemption business overall. The more ticket machines there are on the market, the more ticket payouts there are, which means prizes. Once a customer gets a few tickets from a machine they see the prizes on offer, then will play more ticket machines to try to get their desired prizes. Its helps when you get machines that you can also have prizes to go with them such as DC Comics, PACMAN and Halo: Fireteam Raven.”
CS: Have there been any specific brands, or types of merchandise you have seen prove to be especially popular this year?
DS: “PAC-MAN continues to be a favourite in both plush and gift. Scooby Doo is an evergreen licence and with new TV series and movie on the way will continue to be a favourite. Minecraft plush has been a bit of a surprise as although has been around for a while still continues to be a strong brand. We will be introducing a new Paddington range and we have huge expectations for this – especially as there is a new TV series and another film in the pipeline. Shaun the Sheep will be coming back for another movie as well and this has been a great licence for us over the years, so we are glad he is back in the limelight. As for DC Comics – this is a huge licence for us and it just keeps on moving forward. There is a new Joker movie coming up, so we expect our villain mix to become extremely popular again.”
CS: With the increase in staycations and longer family breaks, is the market for higher ticket value items rising and is the range of prizes having to broaden to sustain interest?
DS: “Yes, with more repeat visits to locations there is definitely a need for higher ticket value products, our electrical range of speakers/headphones/projectors and more is the solution for this. Also, we offer a collectable range of products, which is also good, collect one collect them all. A lower value prize that has a set to collect is good for a family.”
CS: How do you stay at the forefront of consumer trends when it comes to the most up-to-date offering possible?
DS: “We listen to customers/our operations and even friends and family to get feedback. We are always at many consumer shows all over the world looking to see trends and latest crazes.”