When Panini got into the hockey card mix in 2010/11, they brought us Score, Donruss, Pinnacle, Contenders, Limited, Zenith, Limited, Luxury Suite, Certified, Crown Royale, and Dominion. There were a few stand alone sets like All-Goalies and Score Rookies and Traded as well. Looking at that list, Donruss, Pinnacle, Zenith, Luxury Suite, and Certified are gone from the line-up. And some that are left are on their way out, or changing price points and/or configurations.
It just feels to me that even after a solid amount of time, Panini is still finding its way. Now, don't get me wrong, Panini is doing a marvelous job of producing high quality, ever improving cards... it's just that I would personally have liked Panini to stick with some of their brands longer - to allow them to develop collector followings and a footprint in them market.
Developing a following is what ITG and Upper Deck has done so well. These two companies really have legacy brands that go back quite a while. With Upper Deck, Series 1/2, Artifacts, SP Authentic, SP Game-Used, Black Diamond, O-Pee-Chee, Ultimate Collections, and The Cup have released year after year with improvements made. ITG has done the same with their Between the Pipes, Heroes and Prospects, and Ultimate Memorabilia lines. Collectors know what they are getting when they buy these products, and enjoy the slight changes made to them year after year.
Panini needs to stick with it with some of their product lines and let them marinate for a bit longer. In my opinion, I think Donruss could have been an amazing brand. 2010/11 Donruss was very weak. It was lower end, the design was poor, and now prices of it can be had for a small fraction of its original retail price... but it was a brand that was ripe for improvement. I think Donruss could have been Panini's 'retro' product. It would have been especially cool to see Donruss with an 80's baseball type card theme done in hockey. Diamond or Ice Kings would have been great... and Rated Rookies could have been cultivated to rival even the Young Guns series from Upper Deck.
Zenith from 2010/11 was such an odd product... with an odd amount of hits... three! I know I definitely thought it'd be a standard four hit affair. I guess the big giant rip card could have been considered a hit too... but that product was dropped after collectors universally disliked it. But I have to say that Zenith was one of Panini's most unique products ever released. I thought with some work it could have been great! But it didn't get its chance.
Panini's big boy, Dominion, has been a collector favorite since Panini got back into hockey. It, along with its distant relative Score, have been the most consistent Panini brands. Funny how they are the top and the bottom products... but anyways... Dominion this year is undergoing a change. The price is lowering, and there will most likely be a new top dog product for Panini. That can't be good for Dominion cards of the past. No longer is Dominion going to be considered the cream of Panini's crop. So Dominion takes a hit on its legacy.
Because of this, I believe collectors don't 'trust' in Panini's brands quite yet. I'm sure that collectors, either consciously or sub-consciously, look to see if brands are stable. I believe more stability equates to more collector interest in a product over time.
I hope that Panini has a plan to make a line of cards that endures over time. Though I really love Panini products, I definitely have felt that the value may not be there down the line. It's sad to know that for many product you can just wait a few weeks for a price drop. And even after years some products can be had at large discounts.
That's not the case with many of Panini's competitor's older products... those boxes have risen in price. Could the reason be because of brand stability?
Well... that I'm saying it could definitely be a factor.
Let me know what you think of brand stability in the comments below. Is it worth thinking about? I'd love to hear your opinion!