Saturday, April 3, 2010

BREAKING NEWS- This Just In- Kids Don't Buy Sports Cards

A survey, in conjunction with the upcoming Industry Trade Summit in Las Vegas, as reported by Sports Collector's Daily, revealed that "88 percent (of hobby shops)–report that those under the age of 17 comprise less than ten percent of their current customer base."
So does this, on its own, mean kids aren't buying sports cards? Absolutely not, and I'll tell you why. The results from that poll question can also be worded, "Ten percent of parents whose children collect sports cards, drive them to a local card shop."

Panini and Topps wouldn't be investing so heavily in the TCG market with Attax and Adrenalyn for the idealistic notion of trying to get kids back in The Hobby. On the contrary, they do it to make money. In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that while completely ridiculous and useless to a die-hard collector, the Attax line for Topps accounts for 25% of their revenue. 25%!!!

So if kids aren't buying them from the LCS (local card shop), where are they buying them from? That's right the Big Box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target while shopping with Mom or Dad. Which leads me to my next point.

I don't claim to know the intricacies of operating a business of that of a trading card manufacturer, but I do know that the line between retail and hobby products has become blurred when in fact they should be very distinctive. While blasters and rack packs are understandable and arguably smartly marketed retail products, some of the retail vs hobby products on an individual pack basis need greater differentiation then simply the "hit" odds and focus more on content differences in total.

Why should I be more inclined to make single pack purchases of base brands like Topps Series 1 from Target as compared to my LCS? The number of cards isn't drastically different, if at all. Their isn't incentivized content in the form of of added inserts in hobby versions. However, what if Hobby only versions of Topps Series 1, as an example, had a Chrome insert per pack or 1 per pack TMCG redemption codes? While Target is more convenient, I can definitely see myself going out of the way for this content if it were unavailable at retail.

Collectors on message boards and blogs constantly tell manufacturers what we want and don't want. Collecting is very much to some degree an obsession for some and addiction for a few. Manufacturers need to do a better job of creating value in Hobby products so those dollars aren't lost at the LCS in favor of the big box. This can be accomplished by clearer distinctions in product design and marketing between the two distribution channels.

I want manufacturers producing cards and products for ME. A 30-something adult with an obsession for The Hobby, a small amount of discretionary income and a desire for well designed, aesthetically pleasing cards, pulled from a product with good return value. If that means I will only have 5 products to choose and/or purchase from all year, so be it. Because I can guarantee you, that if you meet the aforementioned criteria, I will be buying them, in multiples.

Draw a clear line in the sand between hobby and retail and don't pollute one with the other in terms of product selection, return value, marketing or demographics.


LongFlyBall said...

Couldn't agree more with you. Hobby stores need to have a reason for collectors to buy from them.

Make the LCS the "home of the hit". Let retail be a largly economical way for set collectors to get the base cards and the odd hit.

Let Hobby stores have "exclusive" hobby insert sets and the odds for "hits" be much improved. See UD Artifacts Hobby/Retail to see what I mean.

Another thing I would like to see is Hobby stores getting a 2-week jump on retail stores for the product. This would go a long way to helping these card shop owners keep their businesses.

Lastly, a more strict implementation of the "brick and mortar" rule would be nice as well.

JL said...

Ok, I'm going to be the stick in the mud. Our Hobby has become a joke. LCS, literally raise the box prices to 10% because of everything that goes into a shop. Target or Walmart blasters, give you the chance to get a hit or finish a set, that well may cost a little more at the LCS. Case in point 2010 heritage, 3 boxes at LCS $252.00 still did not complete set, Kmart a blaster 20.00, got 10 I needed and still can go back and pick up a couple more. This is not about being a kids hobby anymore, it's about LCS and manufactures understanding, no one product should be bias to collectors, everyone should be able to enjoy the hobby, and not be seperated by PRICE. Until then, LCS will suffer.

Sid McHenry said...

Wow, the card shop I used to work at made it in this post! Baseball Cards Plus in Huntington Beach, California! Go Brian Farole!

James said...

I'd go to a hobby shop more often is a good one was near me. The hobby shop has made no incentive for me to take the kids over there - sadly, my Target does just as nice of a job.

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