I just received my new multi-sport Beckett today (I didn't request to be changed back to the old format because I figure that I don't look at the pricing anyway, so at least this way I can read the articles about all of the various sports) and was reading the "Previews" section about the new 2008 Upper Deck Ballpark Collection, which is ANOTHER $50+/pack product to hit the market. I can see having one, maybe two, brands that are priced that high, but why cannibalize your other brands? (this sounds very familiar - maybe I wrote about something similar a while back). Also, with all of the economic challenges that we're currently experiencing (gas prices, sub prime, food prices, stock market, etc...), does it really make sense to increase your number of high-end brands to spark product sales? Like most other industries, recession-like conditions typically result in consumers downgrading their spending habits to one (or two) levels lower. For example, those people who would usually be eating dinner at Mi Piace will now be satisfying their craving for Italian food at the fast-casual Olive Garden.
If I worked for Upper Deck, I would be trying to shift gears to accommodate the the economic climate (actually, this could've been done over a year ago when home values started to fall). Why do you think Hyundai recently scrapped their plans to enter the truck business? Because the writing was on the wall as the other OEM's truck sales started to struggle last year due to high gas prices (it helps to be a market follower in these instances). I must say that I've been impressed with a lot of the decisions that Upper Deck has made in the past, but this isn't one of them. I'm also not sure that their move to have one of their vendors control their production plant & material sourcing was the best option (unless they didn't have enough business to fill their capacity, resulting in too much downtime?). Anyway, I hope that a shift in brand strategies is coming soon, otherwise, the big two (UD & Topps) could see a drop in sales volume, and collectors could be left feeling empty with too few buying options to match up to their tighter budgets.
I'm sure that the card companies have done their due dilligence to determine where the sweet spot is between unit price, sales volume, etc., but I kind of miss the days (which were not that long ago) when the mid-level packs were selling for around $5-7, and the premium ones could be bought for around $20. Unfortunately, like many other consumer goods, prices usually don't go down as time goes on; they just go up.