Puzzle brand bucks the declining magazine sales trend

Puzzler Media, the UK’s largest creator of puzzle content, is outperforming the magazine market in terms of newsstand sales thanks to a generation of colouring-in and dot-to-dot enthusiasts rediscovering their childhood pastimes.

Against a backdrop of declining sales in the UK magazine market (revenue 4.5% down on the previous year), Puzzler’s newsstand revenues are up 2% year-on-year with profits increasing by 30% over the past four years, which Puzzler Media managing director Neil Flockhart attributes to the company’s ability to diversify and create new trends out of old categories.

He said: “Print has obviously been hit hard in the digital era as more people switch to mobile devices for content, but we’ve found that people who puzzle still love using pen and paper so we’ve been able to weather the storm a lot better than other magazine sectors.

“We have created some really successful puzzle apps in the digital space but print is still where the vast majority of our revenue is generated. We have also had to adapt though – 10 years ago if someone told you that adult colouring in books would be a major revenue stream, you may have laughed. Likewise, who would’ve thought the Candy Crush phenomenon would be reversed out of technology and put into print format?”

Last month Puzzler launched the first Candy Crush Magazine after being granted an exclusive license by the creator of the franchise to bring one of the most downloaded app games of all time to magazine form.

The NYSE-listed King Digital Entertainment plc awarded Puzzler the license to produce a 64-page monthly print edition of its coveted Candy Crush Saga franchise, which has been one of King’s most popular games since its launch in 2012.

Mr Flockhart added: “Candy Crush is the reason thousands are glued to their phones during the daily commute but we have an army of puzzle enthusiasts committed who are committed to pen and paper and we’ve used the best brains in our business to create some incredible puzzles for the new magazine.”

Puzzler Media, which introduced the first Sudoku magazine to the UK in 2005, is the market leader in the country’s £50m puzzle market where three quarters of the population are estimated to do some sort of puzzle every week.

Speaking as he revealed Puzzler’s new-look masthead – which has changed after 43 years on newsagents’ shelves – Flockhart described the new marque as “more modern but unmistakably Puzzler”.

He said: “Puzzler essentially defined the puzzle magazine category in the UK but we’renow in our fifth decade and I certainly don’t wear my 70s gear anymore so we decided it was time to spruce up the brand and get with the times.”

Puzzler’s magazines have made a string of TV appearances over the years from EastEnders to Alan Carr Chatty Man, and Puzzler Media’s marketing director Lynda Newland says she’s confident fans will love the new look.

She said: “Because of how well established the Puzzler brand is with its fans, we knew that anything we created as the next step in our logo’s development had to be an evolution rather than a revolution.

“The new design ensures that when the magazines are stacked on shelf, the ‘?’ is still visible, meaning that Puzzler’s identity can be communicated clearly even if the consumer only sees the first letter of the name.”

It is thought that over 12 million Brits a week attempt a crossword in addition to the host of newer puzzle categories which Puzzler Media has been at the forefront of, including having the UK’s only magazine dedicated to the Japanese logic puzzle Suguru.

In addition to being the UK’s largest puzzle magazine publisher, Puzzler Media provides bespoke print and digital content to newspapers and magazines, and interactive games to the online, mobile and TV markets.

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