Kickstats: Where Do Backers Come From?

Kickstats: Where Do Backers Come From?

Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

Introduction

One critically important piece to planning a Kickstarter campaign is predicting where your backers will likely come from. And I don't mean what social media site - I mean what region of the world.

Why is It Important?

There are several reasons why it's useful to know what countries your backers are coming from, but for a quick example, I'll focus on shipping costs.

Since Kickstarter still counts shipping costs toward your overall funding goal (as of May 2020), not accounting for those costs can really mess up your finances. For instance, shipping an average card game within the US might cost around $8. Shipping that same game to Europe, however, will cost $23, nearly 3 times as much!

So let's set up an example of how this might play out. For simplicity, let's pretend that Kickstarter fees, payment processing fees, sales tax, marketing costs, etc don't exist (what a wonderful world that would be!). You've done your homework and know it will cost $5,000 to manufacture your game. To reach that goal, you decide on a base pledge amount (the lowest pledge amount to get 1 copy of the game) of $20, which is pretty reasonable. At that price, you'll need 250 backers to reach $5,000 in funding.

(250 backers) * ($20 pledge) = $5,000

But, you know that shipping is included when calculating your goal, so you increase it to $7,000.

(250 backers) * ($20 pledge + $8 shipping) = $7,000

So now you're good to go, right? Not so fast - you're assuming that shipping will be $8 no matter where you're shipping to. What if 50 of your backers come from Europe? Setting your goal to $7,000 will make you $750 short!

(200 US backers) * ($20 pledge + $8 shipping) + (50 European backers) * ($20 pledge + $23 shipping) = $7,750

The trouble is, you don't know how many European backers you'll get, and then of course you have to think about backers from Canada, Japan, Australia, etc, and all of these places have different shipping costs! If you don't at least have a reasonable estimate of this distribution you could overestimate, making your funding goal too high, or even worse, make it too low and possibly not be able to fulfill.

That's just one reason why it's crucial to get a good estimate for where your backers will come from.

Where Do Backers Come From?

The best way to estimate where your backers will come from is to look at other projects that are similar to yours. That information can be found in the "Community" tab of any finished campaign that had at least 10 backers. Of course, it can be tedious to do all that, so I'd like to help you out by at least giving you a general idea. Here's a quick breakdown of where backers come from for all Kickstarter campaigns that have launched and finished year-to-date (about 6800 projects).

Kickstarter backers by country

Disclaimer: Due to availability of data at this level of detail, true percentages may differ slightly from the above numbers.

From the above chart we can see that, on the whole, the US makes up the vast majority of backers. That percentage, however, is likely to vary quite widely based on the country of the project itself.

To help get a bit more accurate numbers, let's break out backer counts by project country. Below is a chart showing percentage of backers by region for the top 10 most popular countries based on projects launched.

Kickstarter distribution of backers by project country

Disclaimer: Due to availability of data at this level of detail, true percentages may differ slightly from the above numbers.

I'm Using a Distributor and/or Pledge Manager

After reading all this, you might be thinking "I'll be using a global distributor and/or a pledge manager, so this doesn't really apply to me." Well, that may be true for shipping, since you can charge it separately from the original Kickstarter goal, but there are other reasons why predicting the locations of backers could be useful. For instance, what time of the day you should launch, what day of the week you should launch, or knowing what holidays to avoid are very likely dependent on what part of the world your backers are coming from. If you get a good grasp on this, then you're already ahead of the game.

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David Miller

David Miller

Interesting perspective. I go about it a bit differently. I’d like to think I’m being incredibly precise, but maybe not.

I start with the cost of the game. I calculate it to the penny (including the Kickstarter fees which are not 10% as many creators say). I even calculate the income tax hit for us. All neatly in Excel with a handful of formulas.

I also take into account my defect rate (since I’m the assembly plant, I know how many meeple, dice, tokens, coins, etc. that I’ll reject). I also calculate cost of shipping materials to the penny (per game unit, even including tape! I made a jig for taping our last KSs game so that I’d use the same length for each box.).

USPS shipping is easy with only a few rates covering the entire world. So I figure that out exactly (by making my shipping tests which means making a real game, packaging it, testing the packaging, then weighing. The rates can be calculated over a year in advance (despite what many creators claim—imagine if shipping costs were so off-the-wall and secretly changing without advance notice?!? It’d be hard for Amazon to operate—so BS to any creators that used a pledge manager and claim they won’t know what shipping will be).

Anyway, . . .

My little Excel sheet has game costs tied to rewards which have shipping materials and shipping costs. So I have a US reward, a Canada reward, and an international reward. For International shipping (apart from Canada and Mexico), there are two predominant rates that are only pennies from each other. I take our historical data into account to create one shipping rate for international (it’s a weighted average or similar).

The sheet then has multiples of the single reward and I can “play” around with the final reward values. Since the US reward includes the shipping (ugh, I hate when creators say they subsidize shipping—what BS is that? Do they get free shipping? Argh . . . ). =p

I can see how profit is affected with dollar changes to each reward. The Canadian and International rewards have a column that automatically adjusts what the reward’s shipping will be (you know, that bit you see when you select various countries when backing a KS).

So then I have a precise cost for a game and a precise margin. Once I have that, I look at the funding goal that I need. That funding goal is somewhat arbitrary and does not reflect x number of games. I tend to price my components for making 3,000 games. The goals we set are typically under what we would need if we went your method. But we have precise control over our components—we don’t have any game manufacturing minimums like those using offshore resources.

David

David

See, this is why I like you, David. You and I are both Excel junkies :D

The amount of detail you go into with your estimates is incredible, and the fact that you don’t have manufacturing minimums with your process really makes a world of a difference! I remember reading something you wrote about your manufacturing process and how all your suppliers come from all over the US. It’s quite an operation you have there!

David Miller

David Miller

More out of fear of games being held up at port like a few years ago. That lack of control when I’ve made a promise makes me uneasy.

In reality, it hamstrings me became millions of games get manufactured and distributed with no issue.

For example, Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse would cost us 40% of our current costs and end up being full-color printing and embossing of the tin and arrive individually shrunk wrapped!

No labor on our part! No printing of the rules on crazy static-creating polymer paper, no hand folding of same rules, no hand placement of stickers, no inspection of all the components, no nothing—just sit back and make more profit.

It’s terribly tempting but our niche is this kind of hoakey, homemade action and we like it.

David

David

I think we found a new slogan for Subquark games – “We make hoakey, homemade action and we like it.” Haha!

But I know what you mean about timelines and the fear of things taking longer than expected. I’m trying to be really careful about not over-promising with our upcoming Kickstarter, especially since it’s our first. To help with my own estimates, I actually plan to write a blog post about delivery times for Kickstarter board games. I want to go into a bunch of board game campaigns and record when they ended, when they said their rewards would be delivered, and when they actually were delivered.

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