mox, on 17 January 2011 - 12:44 PM, said:
Yes, but we aren't just talking about one or two companies holding the line on prices. Maisto has managed to have virtually no increase, but they've been cutting corners for several years to achieve this. However, a lot of other companies have maintained or increased their quality/level of detail, while increasing their prices less over several years than AUTOart routinely does annually. Sunstar Platinum, Highway 61, Auto World are all at least the equal, if not better than, pretty much any AUTOart, with the exception possibly of AUTOart's absolute top of the line models, yet all retail well south of the $100 mark. A few years ago, these brands (or in Auto World's case, its predecessor Ertl) sold for roughly the same price as AUTOart. Now they're what...75% the cost? GMP used to be more expensive than any AUTOart. Now the bottom end AUTOart's are closing in on GMP's prices, and the way things are going will pass them in a few years at most. If costs are being driven by forces beyond the manufacturers' control, it seems AUTOart are having an extremely bad run of luck, while everyone else is constantly walking in sunshine.
I'd say it's a combination of cost and market share. Granted companies like Highway 61, Auto World and GMP have managed to keep their prices at bay, but consider the market they sell to. The most marked difference between all those companies and AutoArt is their subject matter (which creates the customer base), classics and American made vs. exotic/sports racers and hard to come by in 1:1 imports.
Who's more likely to buy a classic car model, or a 'good ol' American brand'? Who is more likely to buy an exotic, or a sports racer? Sure there will be overlap in the two, but the distinction could be obvious to us all that it is a difference of era, of age, and most especially emotional attachment derived from that. There are more young idiots out there with money to burn than ever before, and you can bet AutoArt is counting on them to purchase every exotic they put out. Just like I said all companies are not created equal, neither are market shares. Many youths these days will respect classics, but don't care to display them without having some sort of special attachment, eg, father owned one, a neighbour had one and so on. Whereas a more recent car like a 997 GT1 is more respected in the collective memory of youths in the know these days. It doesn't matter if it's deserved or not, that's just how generations roll, always ON TO THE NEXT GREATEST THING!!! ... "The stuff of my era is better than the old era, so let's focus on the new." I see this attitude in my students (teaching in technology). They think a sociological or philosophical argument written in 2005 or 2000BC is out of date. While possible it isn't necessarily so. But it's not the content itself they immediately dismiss, it's the age. In the information age kids believe anything not the most relevant is outdated. It's disgustingly reductionist to the greatest faults of that kind of thinking. Total nonsense but it's all they've ever known so it seems like a part of nature to them. I make this point because this is a common mindset seen in youth generations. Latest and greatest or not worth the though.
With that said one could argue sales in the Highway 61 etc market share have declined as the years go on, and as the generation who love those vehicles so much move on to old age and loose interest they leave behind piles of models no one really wants to buy. The prices in those categories are likely low because demand is low. Just look at the changing demographic of this forum. I recall in November when I signed up reading threads about how it all used to be about muscle cars and stuff. I barely see any talk of that now. I can sift through miles and miles and miles of pre-1980's vehicles on eBay and to me it's like shopping for Nascar stuff in that, I'm sorry, it all sorta looks the same to me. I'm not attuned to that era. But then! Go and search for a car I know exists as a model on eBay and I might get five results spread out across the world, because so many people want the thing they don't last when put up for sale. Hotter than sliced bread!
Marketing agents know this all too well, and they are banking on these ideas. The people most willing to part with their money these days are the youth (by which I mean 10-30ish). We can hem and haw over why that is but that fact will remain. So that's who AutoArt are marketing to. People with money to burn. It's obvious the long time collectors are not their concern. However, the long term collectors just starting out (more or less, me, for example) are going to be used to paying that premium. So in two years when AutoArt has peaked their pricing it'll all seem normal by then, and to new kids, as if it were never different.
So it seems as though these various companies have different intentions on where they want to go with their product. Left in the line of fire, us, consumers. What AutoArt is trying to do is position itself as the supreme leader to casual collectors. Too many people in this world think dollar signs and decimal places equate to quality. So casuals and newcomers will see nothing wrong, and gladly lay down the cash like it were nothing.
Seeing as this discontent is so pervasive across the community I'd challenge someone to not join in the chorus of complaints and use one of those free petition websites to deliver a message to AutoArt. "Lower your damn prices or at LEAST explain what you are doing, or else." The or else being we, the undersigned stop buying AutoArt AND educate the new collectors to the fact they are being screwed. IF and ONLY if, that turns out the be the case.
I think these are the longest posts in my DX history and I can't believe I'm doing it in pseudo-defence of AutoArt. Buncha dirtbags.
Diecast24/7, on 17 January 2011 - 01:16 PM, said:
I agree. We've said all along, even through the heaviest criticism of AUTOart, that they're following the strategy that they think suits them best. Whether AUTOart or General Motors or Mobil/Exxon are "greedy" or not is another debate. They're all just showing profit to the investor or their owner and "that's just the way it is."
Another point I've tried to make is that I could justify much of the price increase to myself as a collector if AUTOart would simply do limited runs of numbered-chassis cars. That means nothing to some people but if I'm getting a limited edition of only 600 pieces, I feel much more comfortable paying $130 for a model knowing that I own a real collectible and not something that's going to be reproduced 10k times for the next 10 years. AUTOart is effectively demanding limited edition prices already. The value is just not there anymore.
The whole mistreatment of distributors and retailers is another matter entirely and one that probably doesn't bear repeating as I think most DXers just really don't care.
On whole distributor/retailer thing, I am interested, but I have too little knowledge of how those businesses run to make meaningful comments.