Panini Announces Huge Changes To Their Redemption Programs

Panini announced today that their redemption programs would be changing, being replaced by points in packs that can be “redeemed” via an app on your phone or computer. These points are not player specific, and it will let collectors choose their card to be redeemed as the players sign. Different players get different points.

All this being said, I have an opinion, obviously. It may be surprising to you, but I don’t have a problem with Redemptions, and in all honesty – you shouldn’t either.

Redemptions ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is what happens when they are not fulfilled in a timely matter, if at all. Most people are fine with waiting a few months for their player to sign, as long as they sign. As I have said before, most collectors have a scope to their collections, whether it is a team or a player. Wax breakers also have a scope, especially when it gets to the ones that bust high end. If the redemptions no longer have player names on them, it removes a big element to a main pillar of the hobby. If the majority of customers function in this fashion, im hesitant to say its a good idea to remove that element from any program run by a manufacturer.

Redemptions can carry immense value, and for the most part, they do eventually get filled. All of these big cards were redemptions at one point:

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Auto Patch Logo

2013 Panini Crown Royale Peyton Manning Silhouette Auto Patch

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Ticket Variation RC

2013 Topps Chrome Yasiel Puig Red Refractor Auto /25

2013 Immaculate Kyrie Irving Auto Jumbo Patch

That’s not saying this isn’t a great idea. Not at all, I give Panini a ton of credit for taking a risk like this. It begs a million different questions surrounding points expiration, box content, schedule of signings, communication of store offerings, all sorts of stuff like that. On paper this could work, barring any of the above situation. It also gives Panini a ton of incentive to get their content live in packs, because otherwise its not going to be on the checklist until its available in the app’s store.

Here is the main issue. Big name players, especially non-rookies, only sign a few times per year. Does this mean that products now go without those names until they do sign? Doesnt spell good for cards that would have been redemptions in the past. Don’t let this fool you, there are still redemptions, just not in the same fashion, and that might create some ripples that Panini doesn’t quite understand yet. Eventually, if only the lower tier players sign, does that mean the content of the store is just a bunch of junk no one else wanted? Collectors will just be left holding their points in the same fashion they used to hold redemptions. Although this time, there is no guarantee of what player they will be able to get.

In my opinion, what should have happened, is that the player name is still on the redemption. If you are waiting for too long, you can choose to take the points to buy stuff from the store. Then, if you want, you can pick out what you want as a replacement. This would basically kill two birds with one stone. Points will have an exchange rate, and their allotment per card can be determined by the market. That way, in a hobby where collection targets will be injured by any content that cant be packed out at release, you still can have that promise of the card in your mailbox IF it is made. If it isn’t made, well then you get your points.

Here is another thing I have to give credit to Panini about, especially in regards to the scope of the program. If the above solution was implemented, its obvious that the center stage would still be the cards outstanding. Instead we now have full scale implementation, which FORCES them to put great stuff in the app store if they want people to continue buying their products. This includes, from what I understand, a lot of content signed through Panini Authentic, which is a great outlet for a program like this. I would guess unopened product will also be an option, as will some of the promotional stuff like the black boxes.

I see a plethora of open doors now that we know something like this can exist. It gives collectors an out, but it may not be the solution we deserve. Hopefully we get some more clarification of the program, how it effects box hits, and all those rules that we know are coming. I am giddy at the idea of a new world, but extremely skeptical of what it will mean for the content I like. Currently I have 15 redemptions in process with either of the big two. I will wait for signing on all but 2, regardless of timeframe. That should say something.

EDIT:

The more I think about it the more concerned I get. There was a Q and A posted, and already we are getting responses like this from Panini: “unless we are running a specific promotion and we want to add points just to reward the consumer.” Does anyone else see this as a vehicle to replace the addition of cards to a certain product? Lets say Panini doesnt want to design another group of cards for an upcoming release, what’s to stop them from just throwing a bunch of points in there instead? Whose to say they wont add them to their big giveaways, or even sell them on an exchange rate. There is no guarantee of monetary value, so fluctuations in value will be RAMPANT. That creates a lot of insecurity if you ask me.

Add that onto my nightmare scenario, which now exists instead of pulling a big name player redemption:

  • You pull a huge point card from a box or pack to replace the previous redemption
  • You go online and see that the only things available are scrubs and huge point items from Panini Authentic
  • You decide to wait for a cool card to be released because you are short of the major point items
  • Cool card gets released, but because everyone has been waiting for something awesome, you are one of 100 people waiting for a card that has 25 copies.
  • Because you werent there immediately when the card hits the store, you now miss out and are left with your original choice of junk or waiting because you dont have enough to pay for a bigger item that is available.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Similarly, for everyone that doesnt break wax, they are now left to wait. They can either buy points online and HOPE they arent beaten out for the card they want, or wait for the cards to show up on ebay. At that point, its worse than a redemption, because you are counting on someone selling their high point value card at a reasonable price, or at all.

I am quickly formulating the opinion that Panini created this program as a vast overreaction to the part of the process that wasnt the issue. Basically, my car is running slow due to this flat tire, let me get a more powerful engine to go faster! The part of the process that was broken was the replacements for unfulfilled or lagging cards, NOT the existence of redemptions in the first place (as mentioned above). Uneducated collectors confuse the two vastly different situations, and have created an uproar over it. As a result we now have to suffer through this. Every passing moment makes me more frustrated over this.

All we wanted was the choice of waiting for our card or taking the out in a manner we deem acceptable. We just traded one problem for another because we gained the second part, but lost the first.

14 thoughts on “Panini Announces Huge Changes To Their Redemption Programs

  1. I just had to contact Panini last week about a card I redeemed over a year ago. Although it was only a Nick Toon Rookie Ticket auto. I asked for a replacement just because I was tired on waiting for the card and if he ever does sign I will probably get the card cheaper than what I paid for the redemption.

  2. I can see some positives in a program like this if executed correctly. Obviously, if you’re aware of cards in their inventory that you really want, you will be excited to collect redemption points. However, that is a very different concept than the redemptions we know, i.e., waiting for a specific player to finally sign. I don’t have a problem with redemptions, only when the companies make them part of their business practice as opposed to a last resort inconvenience.

    The skeptic in me sees this giving Panini license to put even more redemptions into products. Nothing liking boosting profit by packing products full of IOUs. This gives me the same feel as gift cards. All retail companies LOVE selling gift cards. They get your cash upfront along with the very good chance that a percentage or entire value will never be redeemed. It puts the full responsibility squarely on the customer to get the full value from their gift card (IOU). Otherwise, the company is getting money for nothing.

    Given Panini’s penchant for stuffing products with traditional redemptions in the first place, I have a hard time trusting this twist. I see “redemptions” increasing in number, not being reduced.

    In other news, I applaud Panini’s plan deter faked patches by maintaining a patch database.

  3. I see this as only a win for sellers who are breaking cases and cases of product. They’re going to have tons of points vs the average Joe hobbiest who may or may not get some points from his box or two. At least if all cards of type “X” are redemptions in boxes and I get one, I then am due to receive that card and if that is an extremely hot card for the season I am really lucky. Other than more chances at getting a type “X” redemption cards because they break more boxes, these big sellers don’t have an advantage. If all cards of type “X” are doled out by points on a website, and these guys have a bazillion points, guess who buys up all the hot cards. And instead of getting something good, the hobbiest is left with scraps.

  4. First of all, I can’t blame Panini for trying something a bit new, and at the same time – looking out for their best interests (profit) first and then collectors second. However, I think it’s cool to speculate and discuss something we haven’t seen in action, so here goes.

    I agree with SCU that for the consumer/collector – this might create more confusion & disillusionment with getting one of these ‘reward’ cards. You are forced to be glued to Panini for prizes to be uploaded – and you might miss out. Not to mention, you might be forced to buy more rewards cards in order to get a card you want.

    If a collector decides they don’t want to play that game, they can sell it/trade it. And again, I agree that with such a new system – judging value will be like trying to predict the direction of Bitcoin or a recent stock IPO like twitter. We can assume that points will be diluted as the seasons roll on – and if Panini doesn’t put up enough compelling prizes, it could cause the value of 1 point to crash.

    I agree with Brandon in comments above that I’m not exactly sure how this is going to work. Panini basketball is basically redemption cards for all the decent rookies, Kobe and KD. I’m not exactly sure if Panini’s plan is for the rewards points being a huge selling point – or if Panini will magically get Kobe, KD and the hot rookies to all of a sudden sign for every new set?

    That being said if I’m Panini – and given the choice
    1- Keep remeptions the same
    2- Just do reward points

    I’d take #2 all day. It’s less work and less obligations ultimately on the balance sheet, employees, inventory, ect. You are selling empty promises called rewards – rather than a specific player on a specific piece of cardboard. Sounds great to me if I’m Panini. I think the entire business model of making cards needs to be run at a higher margin in order to ever grow consistently, so part of me hopes this model helps the entire food chain, but I think for now it’s too early to tell.

    Sure will be interesting to see how it works out, and I would think Panini will be listening to feedback as it rolls out. I don’t think I’ll be playing the reward points game, but will gladly buy the cards I like if people sell them – and that’s another way Panini could make money from this …. but I’ll save that for another day.

    Good article.

  5. I just have to laugh at everything. I said it 5 years ago if this in peopled minds is the biggest problem in the Hobby then we are all doomed for sure. Does anyone not think that topps having a monopoly on baseball cards for the next 7 years is bad for the hobby? Does anyone really believe the manufacturers and licensors have the best interests of store owners and collectors? They make all the rules and if you do not follow them you are banished from the Hobby. Might as well have Vladimir Putin in charge. 2014 Football and basketball are going to do very well not because of anything the manufacturers are doing, but only because of the Hot rookie prospects for this year. There cannot be any type of monopoly in this or any business. Until there is equality across the board from the licensors to have the manufacturers topps, Panini, Upper Deck and Leaf the opportunity to compete on an equal level then this Hobby is hard pressed to be successful. Everyday there are more stores closing than opening and more collectors leaving the Hobby for these reasons. Not my opinion just the facts. Good Luck to the store owners who know what I am saying is the truth. Good quotes and clichés are great because history has proven them accurate. The truth hurts. Thanks and have a great day.

  6. Well, obviously it’s way too early to call it but, I don’t like this at all. This gives them an out, to not include big name player signatures, and no accountability to the collectors at all. Now, your form-letter response will go something like:

    “Thank you for contacting us regarding your Panini points! We are sorry you are unable to find a suitable card for your collection from our vast assortment of extra defensive lineman autographs we have available. We urge you to watch the site for future updates that may or may not include 2nd string WRs and maybe a starting QB or two! Exciting!”

    The whole thing just screams of corruption. I see this as them finding a way to print their own currency to make problems go away. History has proven that never works out well.

  7. I’m a firm believer that a company can’t truly know what customers want until they try something out. In the words of Henry Ford “If I’d asked the customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. I applaud Panini for confronting a problem that consumers have with their products, and trying to make it better.

    I feel that whenever a company makes a major change like this, it’s impossible to know how it will go at the on set as there are so many unknown variables. I think for a program like this to work, it will need to adapt and change over time. The market and customers will quickly decide if this program works, and if there are flaws it should be fixable.

    I personally feel that the points program is a brilliant idea as a backup plan. For example, say you get a redemption and it says exactly what the card is on it, and it has an assigned point value based on some equation to what that card would be worth if it we’re live in hand. Then, after a minimum set number of days, if the card hasn’t been produced (30 days?), the collector could choose to continue waiting or, cash in their points for something off the site.

    As a fan of the hobby, I love Panini’s creativity. We have to remember that they are still relatively new to the world of creating high end modern sportscards. I know they’ve been making sticker cards for many years, but concepts like Flawless and NT are still relatively young if you look at it from a long term perspective.

    As long as they listen to the market and focus on tweaking this new program to work, I feel its a step in the right direction.

    Love the faster engine analogy…

  8. Just another reason I’m glad I don’t break wax anymore…Enjoy not getting your Brady or Rodgers redemptions fulfilled b/c tough signers will never get filled now.

  9. To the people who feel corporate america is out to get them, take a deep breath and calm down. The only thing all manufacturers are out to get is your business.

    The reason redemptions exist is because many players don’t like signing autographs. And, the manufacturers know that when customers are angry, it negatively affects sales. Panini has come up with a program to NEARLY ELIMINATE redemptions and award customers by allowing them to accumulate points across all products and pick a card/product/memorabilia you actually want.

    I had the honor of sitting down with Panini decision makers to discuss upcoming products and the rewards program at length during The Summit. These guys are smart and they know that doing the rewards program the right way is important. I’ve owned a successful sports card shop for 22 years and did card shows for 8 years before that. I know what customers want and I was impressed by Panini. These guys are coming up with a Game Changer.

    No more redemptions for players you don’t care about. Top Level Stars will have redemptions which read (for example) something like “Russell Wilson Auto Prime Patch #d/25 OR 250 Points (point values are yet to be determined). Panini will soon come out with detailed information as the program is scheduled to launch in May. The program may require some minor adjustments as time goes on. I see this program getting better and better.

    Think about it. Panini knows customer satisfaction is important to company success. Panini is out to put a smile on your face. Panini is out to get this right and be your manufacturer of choice.

  10. Bad Idea + No Effort on Panini’s Side = Crap!

    Why would I want points, I will wait for a redemption than go after points. A great example is 2012 Panini Russell Wilson Redemptions. My wife pulled a 2012 Panini Totally Certified Platinum Red Materials Rookie Signature Russell Wilson. Can you imagine if we received points instead? We patiently waited for over a year, during that time, the Seahawks became Super Bowl champions. We received our fulfilled redemption two months after the Super Bowl victory. You can see how this worked out! This is a real world scenario. Hmmm, redemption or points?

  11. I’ll believe it when I see it with Panini! I’m still waiting for Julio Jones to sign my 2011 Contenders card. Over 2 flipping years and nothing but crickets from Panini!

  12. Here’s a problem which guaranteed will happen in baseball and football.

    Imagine if this program started a few years ago and some no name sixth rounder rookie named Alfred Morris didn’t return his cards in time.

    So panini would have instead put points based on the player in the packs.

    All the early products, at least, would have had miniscule point values because he was a common.

    So now, at the end of his great rookie season, instead of a redemption for an Alfred Morris auto rc, you have a super low point card which gets you nothing remotely close to the Morris.

    I hope they figure something out for this scenario. But at least they are trying something!

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