BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Can you stand another Pokemon/eBay post?

I've been in various forms of "marketing" pretty much my whole life, so I get fascinated when I see something that's "working" versus something that's "not working", and I have to poke and prod until I think I understand the why and how. Needless to say, eBay provides me with numerous "WTF?" moments, and one came up recently.

Now, I occasionally buy a "case" of 36 packs of the Pokemon TV/Movie animation cards for Daughter #2 so that she won't get too horribly jealous of her big sis getting all those Pokemon TCG cards ... these are a nice solution for her, since she knows the videos and can "follow along" without having to read. So, when I notice a box of these coming up for auction, I'll generally put it on my "watch list", even if I'm not currently looking to buy more.

The animation cards are a "whole 'nuther market" from the TCG cards, so none of my "reference sites" carry them, but I do know of one site that retails a box of 36 packs for $14.95 plus $7 shipping, thus being my "baseline" for considering the pricing. Last week there were two auctions for what appeared to be identical boxes of these cards, one went for $5.00 with $5.50 shipping (with only one bid ... there would have been two, but I got back to the computer a minute too late!), and the other went for $61.33 with $8 shipping (via 11 bids from 4 bidders). Obviously, from a "marketing" standpoint, the second one was doing something right and the first wasn't.

The $5 auction was titled "Pokemon T.V. Animation Edition Factory Box" and had all sorts of "sell" info about the cards, talking about their rarity, the frequency of foil cards, etc., while the $61 auction was titled "POKEMON TRADING CARDS-36 PACKS-SEALED-NEW IN BOX" and had a two-line description (which, it should be noted did indicated that these were the TV animation edition ... so there was no intentiionally misleading of the buyer).

Back when I was doing network marketing, my upline hounded me to "not talk too much" (since I tend to do "data dumps" on folks), and let the prospect lead themselves into the sale/program. I wonder if this is a similar situation ... most case of Pokemon TCG sets sell in the mid-$60 range on eBay, and as long as the packs didn't break the $2 per level the bidders were thinking that they were getting a deal (even though, as I noted, they with a few clicks could have the same box at 61¢ per pack through a retail outlet).

My thought here is that in the case of the $61 auction the seller phrased things in such a way (with caps, etc.) to create an impression of these being the more "valuable" TCG cards (while clearly stating that they were not), and got bids to match that price point from bidders who perhaps were not aware of the difference in the two types of cards. Obviously, the $5 auction was right up front about this being the animation cards and not the game cards, which was enough to steer away bidders only interested in getting the "real" Pokemon cards.

One thing about the $61 auction was that it started out snagging a very high first bid. The auction had an opening bid of $5.00 (just like the other one), but the first bid, a couple of days into a 7-day listing, was for $51.00 ... making me think that this bidder (who only has 34 star points) was either very confused about the cards, or a shill. The next 3 bids were by a bidder who also started pretty high (at $12.00 on a $5.00 current bid) and quickly (3 bids in 21 seconds!) went up to a max of $24.99 (again, way too high for what they were bidding on), this was followed by another bidder who fired in five bids in quick succession (no doubt via a bot ... even though it was a couple of days before the auction closed ... as the bids were 16, 14, 15, and 17 seconds apart), finally topping the opening bid, then a day or so before the auction closed another bidder (again probably a bot, as it fired in two bids seconds apart) came in at first just under the new high bid, and then over, for that final $61.33.

I can't quite get my head around what was happening there ... why was the first bid so high? Why would somebdoy loose a bot on something so early in its auction cycle? Why would somebody set up a bot with high bids 3-4x retail? The only thing I can think of that makes any sense (aside from assuming the first bidder was either clueless about the market value of the cards or a shill) was that the bot bidders were set up with a particular price point for anything that was a full case/box of Pokemon cards ... except for the fact that the other auction had none of the bot traffic (and it was still open at the minimum for a day past all the bidding on the $61 auction)!

As I've noted, I've been meaning to get into selling stuff on eBay ... which makes a question like "Why did one case go for $5 while the other went for $61?" has a certain weight to it. (sigh) This is obviously the downside of being obsessive-compulsive ... life would be so much easier if I could just waltz into a situation and follow instructions like a good robot rather than needing to have a tested cognitive model for every damn project!

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