I’m down to the biggest question for my steampunkish playing card Kickstarter: Price or Prestige?
So… on to the last bits of planning for the Kickstarter. I’ve done an updated design that’s a bit more polished, with things like a perfectly rotationally symmetrical back and a simplified and more unified color scheme.
I tweaked the border a bit, too, adding some corner and side braces, since it was looking just a little boring in a spread. (If you guys want to opine on that, please do so; I’m not quite sold on the braces. More of them here.)
But that’s just tinkering with art. I can do that all day long. I’m an artist. The bigger question now is what price point to put on the deck when I offer it via Kickstarter. This is where I want to air my thinking and ask for your opinion. I’d love to hear from you all on this.
Simply, it’s a choice between printing with Bicycle, the “800 pound gorilla” of the industry, or printing with an unknown Chinese printer.
Printing with the former winds up with a price point of $10/deck (which includes U.S. shipping) for a top notch deck of cards. (I could also print with USPCC without the Bicycle label, but that doesn’t change the calculus much. It could save 30-60 cents per deck, which isn’t insignificant, but I’m not convinced that such a saving is enough to compensate for the lack of the brand name.) It’s simple, straightforward and carries the heft of prestige and known quality. It’s not a guarantee of Kickstarter success, but it’s a bit of a force multiplier, leveraging the brand.
Printing with the latter means a price point of $5/deck (also including U.S. shipping) for a deck of cards with unknown quality. That’s a sweet price point. It also means I can do a print run of plastic cards for the same $5/deck (which would be a stretch goal), and even a third run that allows 14 backers to guest star on the face cards. I could also look ahead and do custom dice in China and save on shipping, getting all of them together. (Those would wind up being an addon, $1 for 6 brown and silver custom pip dice.)
Beside those considerations, though, printing with Bicycle means a higher Kickstarter goal. That’s not an insignificant mental barrier. I’d have to start with a $9000 goal and hope for the Bicycle to carry the day. Printing with a Chinese company means I can start with a $3000 goal and scale up as needed and add in stretch goals of similar size if things go well. For the same $9000, we could be looking at three different decks (paper, plastic and “People of the 19th Century”) or some other mix of oddments like the dice or gear-themed poker chips.
I wish I could find hardcore reviews of those printing companies, but such have eluded me so far. I do lean to the Chinese printer because I think it’s more flexible and I’m far more price sensitive than I am prestige sensitive. I’m not sure how many potential customers are the opposite.
I also have this little rebellious marketer in me that wants to prove that Bicycle isn’t the One True Way. I aced the marketing class I took at BYU, making over $200 million in our simulated computer company. (I was one of the top 3 in the class of 100+ students; most made $20 million or less.) I found success by offering a wider range of products at the lowest prices, my lower profit margins more than offset by higher sales counts. It was a simple simulation, though, and I’m a gamer who loves math. It didn’t stand a chance.
Still, it’s all just guesswork at this point. I’ve done what research I can, and I do lean to the Chinese printers, considering the pros, cons and costs, but it’s not set in stone yet.
What do you think?