I have often wondered how long it would take for companies to incentivize customers to buy directly from them online in an organic fashion. Panini has offered giveaways over the last few years to create some buzz around direct purchase, but it can be difficult to see the benefit with only certain products available to participate. Its been more about clearing shelves than driving buys of top products. With the creation of the 1st Off the Line Promo, I really believe that Panini has a vehicle that can do some great things for a business model that needs to be adopted in a more widespread fashion.
Check out the cards from boxes that were delivered today:
If you are unfamiliar with the program, its basically a website promotion that delivers boxes early with exclusive content that differs product to product. So far, it has consisted of special parallels or extra content, and I would guess it will change as the collectors become more aware of what the program is all about.
When Prizm first began, it was never going to measure up to a legacy set like Topps Chrome or even Bowman Chrome in any way, shape or form. Now that Panini has bought their way into an exclusive, this is a huge set every year. Although Optic gets better treatment for some dumb fucking reason, Prizm is one of the flagship sets of the card calendar.
I was curious to see how they would utilize a first off the line type of promo for a non-limited run product, and I actually really like what they have done here. Aside from a poor color choice for the parallels exclusively designated for this promotion (Poop brown? Really?), the scarcity is definitely worth buying in for at least a box or two. This goes double if you were looking to buy anyways.
My only concern is whether or not the lack of numbering on the cards, plus the “promotional” nature of the inserts will have an effect on their value. From what Panini has said, these cards are severely short printed, with many less than 20 copies per. Seeing that these autographs are guaranteed, if you hit any reasonable rookie, you should cover some nice cost of the box back – in theory. When things are guaranteed like this, collectors dont always put the same value on the numbering if they had found them in packs the old fashioned way. The difficulty of pulling an auto /20 in a regular box of Prizm is pretty fucking hard. If its guaranteed because you bought direct, is that the same? I want to think it is, but with the rookie class lacking real buzz, im curious if this will fall flatter than normal.
The issue with 2017 products is the comparison back to last year, where two rookies were setting the world on fire for one of the most popular teams in the league. Deshaun Watson is having a great year, but its the Texans this time. Same goes for Kareem Hunt, who plays a disposable position for a relatively unpopular team. Trubisky hasnt played terribly, but the Bears are pretty fucking horrible. Its not 2013, but its not anywhere close to the buzz we saw last year.
I want to see more stuff like 1st Off the Line. I think its a great idea. I want to see more dependency on direct distribution, instead of shifting risk to the distributors and shops. Hopefully there will be further focus on making this program great, and Prizm is definitely a good place to start. Im curious what happens when shops start to figure out that this isnt really the best sign for Panini’s faith in the brick and mortar, especially now that every week brings a new shitty product they have to peddle. I guess we will have to wait and see.