More and more collectors I personally know, have stopped purchasing unopened boxes of new product. Thankfully the hobby has seen that void filled, in recent years, by the case breaking phenomon. Without them, the amount of new singles on the secondary market would be at an all-time low.
For the most part, I have outgrown the need to purchase boxes of the latest "hot" hobby product. Sure, occasionally I get sucked in like everybody else but more often than not the post purchase experience is one of regret and not satisfaction. Why? Because, I'd rather take that money spent on a box of the latest and greatest and just buy the singles and hits I want from the product direct on the secondary market.
I'm not alone in this feeling or practice and I don't believe it bodes well for manufactures and retailers. So what can be done to harness the dollars being spent on the secondary market from a manufacturers standpoint? I believe it's time to re-envision the product configuration of a box of trading cards.
Let's face it, most people collect teams if not specific players. So why not give the collector what they really collect? Using Topps Museum Collection brand as an example, what if they planned it as normal but instead of packing it out randomly with a set box/pack configuration, it was packaged out by team? They would obviously need to adjust production numbers with an increase of Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, etc and a decrease in Mariners, A's, Astros, etc.
The new pack-out configuration would be team specific with the same elements of chance for the "big hit". It could be sold by the mini-box with "x" number of mini-boxes per case. Cases could be team specific to cater to individual markets or an assortment. Each mini-box would have the team base set, (1-2) parallels, (1-2) inserts, (1-3) autographs and (1-2) memorabilia cards. The autographs and memorabilia cards would be cards normally produced for the specific brand, not dumb downed single swatches and autographs of players no one cares about. Pricing would be commiserate with the type of product. $20 for a team set of Topps Baseball with (1) memorabilia card or $40 for the same team set, all team parallels all team inserts, (1) autograph and (1) memorabilia card. Or whatever, you get the idea.
A higher-end product like Museum Collection described above might be priced at $75-$90. Triple Threads $125-$150.
I would buy that type of product for every Chicago team I collect: Blackhawks, White Sox, Bears, and Bulls. Could people still just wait for cards to show up on eBay and other secondary market sites? Of course but I'm willing to bet, that, more people who are currently not buying new wax, would do so with a reconfigured product as described here.
I'd like to see a major manufacturer give this a try for a couple of products for a few years and then compare P/L statements on those products from the new format to the old. I truly believe they have nothing to lose in the long term and potentially much to gain from a fundamental paradigm shift in how we, as a hobby, look at new wax.
What do you think? Would you buy it? What problems, if any, do you foresee with this type of distribution?