Bananagrams – Innovation through Easing Scrabble’s Pain Points

Scrabble is one of the most popular games of all time, far ahead of the many competing word games out on retail shelves.  However, it is not without its pain points, which lessen the enjoyment of the game for many.  Some of the pain points are: time spent waiting for other players to take their turns, luck factor in drawing high value letters, time to play a full game, and the need for paper, pencil and board along with keeping score.  A new game called Bananagrams solves those pain points while still keeping much of the fun of Scrabble.

To play Bananagrams, each player draws 21 tiles and creates their own scrabble-like board with those tiles.  When a player uses all tiles successfully, every player draws another tile.  This repeats until there are no tiles left and the person who is first to create a successful board with all of their tiles wins.  The key factors like quick anagramming, expert knowledge, and use, of 2-letter words and knowing how to play the harder letters are still competitive advantages in Bananagrams.  Gone is the pain of waiting for other players to slowly play their turn; this is turned upside down by the need to play as fast as possible simultaneously.  Now players are in a race instead of taking their entire alloted time every turn to find the best play.  Bananagrams also has no scoring; Qs are not worth more than As like in Scrabble.  No scorekeeper is necessary, nor is a board, paper or hourglass.  Bananagrams can be played when you only have a short time period to play a game; the better you are, the less time you need to play.  The tiles are all that you need to play Bananagrams, making it very portable and easy to play anywhere.

Bananagrams - Scrabble Alternative

There are tradeoffs, of course.  The strategy in how to play the board, not opening up double/triple words/letters, for your opponents is gone.  And there is no bonus for making a 7 or 8 letter word.  Bananagrams is a different game from Scrabble and both are fun and competitive in their own way.  But by solving many of Scrabble’s pain points, Bananagrams has positioned itself as a great alternative to Scrabble.

Making a good product isn’t enough, especially in the competitive and crowded retail space.  Bananagrams was strategic here as well.  If the game came in a standard board game box, it would have been buried on the shelves next to a dozen other word games.  Instead, the maker created a unique banana casing for the game, which allows the game to stand out on the shelf.  It also takes up far less room, which is a plus for retailers, and as such often enjoys placement on aisle end caps.  Consumers pass by the aisle and are likely to notice the banana shape of the game and are interested in what could possibly be in the package.

Additionally, the unique packaging and positioning as a banana allows the makers to easily expand their offerings to other games packaged in the shape of other fruits like apples and pears and attract users who have played Bananagrams.  They have created a brand around a line of fruit-shaped word games; I don’t even know who makes the games, as they don’t need to rely on building up their name as a brand.  The packaging does it for them.  Through a combination of strategically creating an alternative to Scrabble and brilliant packaging, the maker of Bananagrams has created a hit word game that is selling fast and enjoys high visibility in the crowded word game market.

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