Author: Matt W.

So here’s a question. Take a look at these two cards:

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What’s the difference? Not much of one, is there? Similar design, similar quality card stock…pretty much identical in every respect.

But there is one huge difference. The card on the left, a 1984 Fleer, retailed for about two cents a card (15 cards and a sticker for 30 cents). In contrast, the card on the right, a 2004 Fleer Platinum, retailed for about 30 cents per card (7 cards for $1.99). That’s right, despite being virtually identical, and despite the fact that cumulative inflation over that twenty year period was about 70 percent, the card on the right had a retail price approximately 15 times (1500%) the card on the left. The question you have to ask yourself is why?

The only real difference between the two issues is the fact that the latter issue not only has base cards, but is also stuffed to the gills with inserts (twelve different ones if you are counting). And those inserts have to be paid for, despite the fact that in many cases buyers generally don’t really want them. After all, designing twelve different insert sets, securing and organizing the necessary autographs and relics, and making the auto and relic cards all cost real money, even if the end customer often doesn’t want them.

The bigger issue is the fact that virtually every single product suffers from the same problem…endless inserts, parallels, autographs, and relics that few collectors actually want. A perfect example of this was last year’s Goodwin release by Upper Deck. It was a gorgeous set with terrific visual appeal, but was extremely expensive at $2 per five card pack. Factor in the fact that one of those cards was a mini card, and now you’re looking at a retail price of 50 cents per base card. Combine the price with the zillions different insert sets, 60 SP’s, and the fact that many of the cards were of people that nobody really cared about (Evelyn Ng, Lyndon Johnson, Carey Price, Anderson Silva, Chad Reed, Chuck Liddell, Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton, etc.), and you end up with a gorgeous looking but rather overpriced product. Perhaps that’s why many collectors such as myself decided to bypass the retail product altogether and buy singles and sets on Ebay instead!

The good news is that there is a solution staring the manufacturers right in the face. They already have two separate distribution channels (retail and hobby), so why not create two different product configurations, one for distribution through each channel? For example, the retail product could be configured for set-builders like me, with packs containing only base cards and SP’s and retailing for an inexpensive 99 cents per eight or ten card pack. The hobby product could be priced much higher, and would feature both the base cards as well as the full array of inserts, thus giving all types of collectors an option priced to fit their collecting needs.

The bottom line is this. Unless collectors feel that they are getting good value for their money, they are not going to buy your product. And right now there are far too few products being released which are delivering good value for money.

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