Hobby shops and collectors are wondering what the effect of Panini America’s decision to eliminate its MAPP (Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy) will have on the market.
The company announced Friday that it would no longer require hobby shops to sell new sports card products at a certain price point for the first month after issue. The policy change is effective with the February 27 release of 2012 National Treasures Baseball and includes products Panini is currently offering to distributors.
In place for only about two years, the original idea was to protect hobby shops from being undercut on prices and to keep new releases from losing value too quickly. Now, the company believes the market itself will dictate pricing.
MAPP pricing, for now, will remain in place for online dealers. Panini is still examining its policies for that side of the marketplace, trying to uncover a permanent solution that keeps its volume crushing internet sellers, its distributors and retail hobby shops all happy.
It can be a tall order but the company’s new Vice President of Sales, D.J. Kazmierczak said the elimination of what some referred to as “price fixing” will lead to more market liquidity, allowing stores to do what they need to do to find a price level that works.
“That approach will benefit everyone involved because it helps with inventory turns,” he said. “In addition, this different approach will create more demand for pre-ordering product. That is something that we all prefer.”
The move was made during distributor meetings at the company’s Dallas area headquarters last week. Appearing on Cardboard Radio Friday night, Kazmierczak elaborated on the concept by saying Panini products “stand on their own and don’t need to be protected by a 30-day price plan.”
“MAPP pricing was born from the gaming side of the business,” he said. “That side is not predicated on the hot rookie or hot team. It’s a longer sustained type of product. Two years ago things were very different in the marketplace. At the time Panini felt it was the right thing to do. I just feel the time is right now to allow a little more liquidity during the first 30 days of release.”
Kazmierczak said hobby shops have to figure out how to compete with online sellers offering products and believes making the most of the in store experience is an important part of that.
“A store can create an experience than an internet retailer can’t,” he stated. “If someone comes in and busts a box and pulls a great card but it’s not one they want, they’re right there and can trade. We’re trying to draw people into the stores where they can add value to their customer.”
Track Panini box prices on eBay with a look at what’s ending now here.