It's a new year, and like everyone we're making New Years Resolutions.
While we could have an entire show covering my own, it's much more entertaining to make them for others. Since this is the Sports Card Show Podcast, we'll cover the Resolutions that the card companies should be making to keep us coming back for more product each week.
1 - More creative packaging.
1 Pack, 10 Pack, 18 Packs, 24 Packs, 36 Packs ... seems like that's the goto configuration for most product managers these days. The most interesting configuration in baseball was probably Gypsy Queen, and not surprisingly it sold well. Mini-Boxes were hot for a while, but now only Topps Finest really does them year after year. Box loader packs are used more ... but rarely help sell a product like they could.
What I would be looking to do is sell more product at the hobby level. Instead of 1 box for $110, I'd go back to the mini-box model and try to sell more at $25-$30. No collector wants to buy 6 packs off the shelf and strike-out, where he could buy a mini-box for the same price and be guaranteed a hit.
That's just the business side, packs of cards haven't changed much since Upper Deck released the foil pack in 1989. Even then, we don't see much creativity when it comes to the packs themselves. Why don't more products have 3 packs where they all deliver different experiences? For example: you could have a Gold, Silver, and Bronze colored packs - with each one containing only those level parallels inside. Or how about certain color packs that are only inserted 1 per case? (Think Willy Wonka). What happen to hot packs & hot boxes? Don't let pack searchers ruin creativity!
2 - Better Use Of 'Player Worn'
I'd rather have a player worn jersey card of Andy Dalton over a manufactured patch he never even touched ... but it doesn't mean I need to collect 20 of them. I honestly think the player worn jersey is getting a little stale, but Hats, Shoes, Footballs, Helmets and other items aren't ... but have little use because they aren't the cash cow 'jersey' cards can be.
The best use of the plain, 1 color, swatches is having the player sign them. You could mix it up by having him add an inscription, or using different ink colors. Overall, I would just try to limit the use of it unless it's a patch. The money spent on making/designing the cards could be better spent just getting more autographs of these rookies.
3 - Add Hits Or Product Gimmicks Before Release
Happens all the time on Wall Street when analyst who have a 'buy' rating on a stock will under-estimate earnings so when the company beats them, the stock pops. We saw Topps add wrapper redemptions to products that seemed to help them sell. Honestly, the least you can do is just add an un-announced box loader with a separate parallel of the base set numbered to like #/100. That, or just copy the Million Card Giveaway in some fashion so people can continue to interact with your product after they open it.
There are plenty of low cost ways the companies can add value to the hobby boxes. Coin & Stamp Cards seem fairly well collected and other non-auto/jersey type hits can be added to get collectors excited. This kind of goes along with #1 - more creative ways to deliver the cards to the consumer, instead of just box/pack sales that have been used since the beginning of cards.
4 - Offer To Buy Back The Product
What do I mean by this? Goes right along with #3, I would figure out a way to reward your top hobby store owners more often. Think of the farming industry, some crops get a certain price even if the open market isn't paying that ... it's call subsidies. I honestly would pick a few products where you basically offer to buy it back if it doesn't sell. As a hobby store owner, standing behind your products like that would give me the confidence to buy.
5 - Allow Other Companies To Advertise In Your Product
DirecTV buys NFL rights to sell subscriptions, NetFlix used to slip in a 1 month Free-Trial in every DVD Player sold, cereal boxes have ads on them, download a free app and be hit with banner ads ... these are all ways to use your packaging/distribution to make more money. It would help lower the cost of the product for the manufacture - therefore they could possibly pass this down to the consumer.
6 - Better/Clearer Redemption Card Policy
This is something we've been fighting for ... for a long time. Companies need better policy's when it comes to expired redemptions and redemption cards that cannot be re-deemed (because the player never signed). Personally, I think they should have a section on their website that clearly states what happens in all circumstances. Also, they should have a list of items, cards, packs, boxes YOU can choose from to replace the item that cannot be re-deemed. This would cut down on the number of customer service reps (sorry job advocates) ... because the customer can clearly knows what happens when his/her card cannot be re-deemed. It's just good business to stand behind your products and give the customer options if they are unhappy. Instead, too often, it's a waiting game - and constant e-mails/phone calls with customer service reps who are often not given enough clarity on how situations are handled.
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