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Mint should reconsider marketing

 

When your neighbor buys a new Cadillac, Lexis or Mercedes Benz, I expect you think to yourself that someday you hope to be in the position to be able to own one, too. At least that’s how I think.

You don’t mutter oaths against the car companies under your breath for not offering them for the same price of the Impala or Camry that you are currently driving.

That’s the result of good marketing by the car companies. All cars are just basic transportation and the costs of manufacturing a basic model do not differ from the luxury model as dramatically as the price tags attached to them. We think of driving in comfort, arriving in style, signaling to the world that we’ve arrived, etc., and in general are happy to pay more for the prestige of owning the top automobile brands.

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The Mint’s new coin marketing should not be all that different from car marketing. Coin ownership and car ownership send the same messages.

I know I will get a different reaction if I say I just bought a four-coin Presidential proof set, rather than a 1-ounce proof gold American Eagle. They are vastly different products both in kind and in price.

Yet the Mint markets them to collectors as if one size fits all and that State-Controlled Product No. 1 is just as exciting to buy as State Controlled Product No. 2.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Many world mints have realized this and that’s why their variety of products is increasing and why they are garnering numerous nominations for the annual Coin of the Year Awards.

However, this burst of creativity and interesting products does have a cost: There is a wider differential in price points. World mints do not expect their clients to have identical interests and identical financial means. They market to their clients like car companies do.

Some world mint products go to basic customers and the numismatic equivalent of luxury products go to other customers.

To run a rational business, the Mint needs to follow the lead of the trend-setting world mints.

When the Mint sells basic products, like a proof set, it gets complaints that the coins inside are not all Proof-70.

When it sells a top-of-the-line gold product, it gets complaints that the coin is $10 or $20 too expensive.

That’s the fault of Mint marketing.

It should be recalibrated.

Basic proof sets could be sold as always, but the Mint could offer a top-of-the-line set of all Proof-70 coins as certified by a third-party grading service hired by the Mint to certify and encapsulate the coins. Naturally, the prices would be vastly different. Certified Proof-70 coins could even be sold individually.

Proof gold coins need to be marketed the same way. If the metallic content is the prime factor in the purchase, the buyer should be directed to the bullion version. The proof should be marketed as the top of the line that it actually is and priced accordingly.

That’s what world mints do.

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