Those of you nendoroid collectors will probably already know of the Miku Support version nendoroid that Good Smile Company (GSC) is releasing soon. It’s basically a remake of the original Miku nendoroid with an extra face, flag, and pompoms included.
What I find more interesting are not the extras, but how GSC is marketing and selling this new nendoroid. According to the product description, the Miku Support ver. was created to help with relief efforts in Japan after the massive earthquake and tsunami. How exactly will selling a nendoroid help with relief efforts? Well, GSC claims that 1000 yen from every nendoroid sold will go to the Japan Red Cross. Not to mention, the new Miku will be sold for 3000 yen, a bit less than most nendoroids.
That sounds like a pretty good deal right? Not only do get a discounted Miku, you’ll feel good knowing that some of your money is going to help people in need. It also paints GSC in a positive light, forfeiting a portion of their profits in order to help others, but is that really what’s going on?
If you take a look at the instructions for ordering the Miku Support nendoroid, you’ll notice that it is only being sold through GSC’s online store. Surprisingly, orders will also be open to international customers after orders for Japanese customers close.
Now, I’m no expert in economics but I do know a thing or two about business and it sounds like GSC just gave the middleman the shaft and went straight from manufacturer to consumer. Consider now that GSC has kept the price at 3000 yen, about how much most regular nendoroids cost. Since stores like AmiAmi regularly sell nendoroids at 20% off and HLJ sometimes lists them for 50% off, that tells me that GSC sells nendoroids to them for 1500 yen or less. One of the first rules in business is to increase profits and decrease losses, so a store would never sell something for less than what they paid unless it’s not even worth the space it takes up (which isn’t very much).
Recall now that retailers like AmiAmi and HLJ have been taken out of the picture. Even if GSC donates 1000 yen per nendoroid, that means they get 2000 yen, an extra 500 yen (at least) per nendoroid than if they had sold them regularly. Take note that GSC is also opening orders to overseas customers, something they’ve been trying to restrict recently.
All of this points to one big money grab under the guise of a humanitarian fundraiser. I’m not saying GSC is a bad company for doing this, I just think they’re being way too aggressive. Some of you may have heard about the recent spat between GSC and online retailers which sell their products overseas. I don’t know about you guys, but that was an indication to me that GSC wanted a piece of the overseas pie by restricting the release of their products to foreign markets and thereby giving them the exclusive ability to sell their products outside of Japan. They’ve already set up the foundations to do so by opening the GSC online shop, which I think is bad for business relations because you should never compete with your customers. This, combined with GSC’s blitzkrieg marketing strategy of recent years and now the Miku support version tell me that they are not just trying to top the figure industry, they intend to completely dominate it.
Profiting off of people’s guilt/conscience is a legitimate business practice though, and at least GSC is donating a relatively large proportion of their earnings. I’ve seen companies say that they will donate a portion of their profits from a new product to cancer research, but if you read the fine print it will say “up to a maximum of…” and have some ridiculously low amount like $5000 or less.
If you really want to help the victims in Japan, you should do so by donating that 3000 yen to a relief organization directly rather than falling for a gimmick like this. If on the other hand you’re a nendoroid fanboy (or girl) like me, then by all means buy the Miku Support version. It’s not often that you get to buy an exclusive figure for such a low price and despite already owning a Miku, I might get this one just for the pompoms.
As for my final thoughts on GSC, I think they really are set to dominate the figure industry (at least outside of Japan) with the way things are going. Unless the other large figure manufacturers like Alter and Kotobukiya step up their game, they’re going to lose out on an opportunity to gain greater brand recognition and expand into untapped markets.