Licensed puzzles and games

The Rise of the Licensed Puzzles Sales

National Puzzle Day is celebrated every year on January 29th. Whether it’s jigsaws, licensed puzzles, crosswords, Wordle, the breakout puzzle craze for 2022, or the most popular puzzle of all time (the Rubik’s Cube), puzzles have been keeping us entertained for centuries.

The first jigsaw puzzle was credited to engraver John Spilsbury in the 1760s. He mounted a map onto a board, cut it into pieces, and called it a ‘dissected’ map. Over 260 years later, world puzzle maps are still being sold.

During difficult times, puzzle popularity increases. It was actually during the Great Depression that puzzle sales exploded. According to jigsaw puzzle historian Anne Williams, during that time “30 million households in the United States were absorbing 10 million jigsaw puzzles every week.”

More recently, during the pandemic of 2020, sales of puzzles increased in the United States by 55% to $405 million, were up 19% in the UK, and increased 30% in Spain. Ravensburger North America saw sales jump 70% in 2020.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Sales during the first weeks of the lockdowns—the last two weeks of March 2020—surged 370% year-over-year. Although growth in the overall puzzle market has moderated, sales are still growing, rising 9% in the first quarter, according to advertising-technology firm Criteo.”

As we ended 2021, puzzle sales were still strong. According to NPD, “Games/Puzzles grew 13% on top of 14% growth last year. And puzzles remained one of the hottest holiday gifts for 2021.”

According to lifestyle expert Amanda Mushro, “Puzzles and games remain one of the most coveted products as holiday gifts and with good reason. People enjoy the play value and opportunity to have fun playing with friends and family and we are seeing that Supersized Puzzles and Games that have an edge are two products that continue to sell well.”

Puzzles and licensing go hand-in-hand. Licensing International shared, mini-puzzles are on an uptrend and CPG-branded are doing well, especially when paired with a great license like White Mountain Puzzle’s General Mills cereal box puzzles.

Heinz created a limited edition impossible-to-solve puzzle that was 570-pieces and all red.

And, of course, entertainment characters continue to sell well. Baby Yoda, Disney’s Frozen, Pinkfong’s Baby Shark, Spiderman, and Friends are a few of the licensed brands on Amazon’s Jigsaw Puzzles Best Sellers list.

In addition to major companies, licensed puzzles have also been successful for entrepreneurs.

Rachel Lowe has introduced over 50 best-selling games and puzzles. As she told Forbes recently, “In the four years since setting up my current company, I have forged partnerships with brands that target a broad demographic, including WWE, Elf on the Shelf, and Call the Midwife.”

KessCo.’s adult puzzle brand, de.bored, announced its first national licensing deal with Sony Music to create a collectible licensed puzzle, from iconic photography and popular album covers from artists like Jimi Hendrix.

Alex Kessler, CEO of Kess, saw an opportunity to expand what can exist in the puzzle category. He stated, “We felt the puzzle category lacked repeat play value and collectability – two factors that are essential to the toy industry we so often see with Kess. We decided to infuse those elements into our own adult puzzle line to reinvigorate the category.”

Their upcoming puzzles will feature the iconic photography and cover art that makes album covers so collectible.

Even current artists like Kacey Musgraves are connecting the pieces to the popularity of licensed puzzle. The singer worked with JIGGY puzzles for this officially-licensed collaboration that features the cover art for her latest album and a photo of Musgraves from the album photoshoot.

Puzzles are fun and good for the brain. Jigsaw puzzles are known to reduce stress and improve memory.

Studies have shown that putting together a jigsaw puzzle can improve cognition and visual-spatial reasoning. They require concentration and improve short-term memory and problem-solving.

On this January 29th, we’d be thrilled to pieces if you’d celebrate National Puzzle Day with your favorite puzzle.


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