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Chinese Influence on Market Prices

Jan 24, 2010

    1. Just a simple speculative question:

      Do you think the rise of cheaper Chinese manufacturers (like Bobobie) of BJDs will force a price fall on the more expensive Korean and Japanese BJDs sometime in the near future, especially as their quality improves over the coming years, or do you think that the prices of the Chinese dolls will rise with their quality to become more in line with the other more expensive and higher quality dolls?

      One half of me hopes that prices will fall so I can afford Luts and Soom dolls, but the other half worries that a fall in general price may "cheapen" our hobby. Maybe Luts and Soom will end up making more entry level dolls in order to compete with their Chinese counterparts while still keeping their more expensive ranges for the serious collector.

      What do you guys think?

      Phil.
       
    2. Prices have only ever really fluctuated when currency rates changed drastically.

      The entry of less expensive doll makers into the BJD hobby has caused some changes. Mostly that it allows people with limited means to afford on otherwise unaffordable hobby. The rest of their business comes from people who wouldn't have purchased a lot really expensive dolls to begin with or from people who buy them in addition to pricey dolls. Companies that haven't remained at the top of their game have had sales to increase business which you didn't used to see. Doll in Mind and Custom House both tried to make "entry level" BJDs and I wouldn't say they've been successful with it.

      Luts prices dropped significantly when they last adjusted their prices with the change in the exchange rate and I doubt it would happen again unless their country's economy tanks somehow and I wouldn't wish that on them. Soom is making money hand over fist with their current business model so I see no reason for them to change their prices. Same goes for most of the older companies, they may not be seeing a huge upswing in business but they know their core customers want to buy their products the way they are now.

      Also, small companies aren't looking to sell more dolls. They are one to three person operations that are already at capacity and most of them have full time jobs apart from dolls. I don't think they'd drop their prices to attract more customers. They charge what they need to to stay the successful ateliers that they are.
       
    3. Edit: Oops! I think I did misunderstand the OP's question. :sweat

      Anyway, I don't think other companies from Korea and Japan could match the cheaper prices from chinese companies even if they wanted to, unless they actually moved their production to China. Labor and materials cost a great deal less in China than elsewhere.
       
    4. I am seeing the OP's question as: Will other companies drop their prices due to less expensive dolls being made by other companies (no matter where the dolls come from)? Rather then it being a question about how owners play with their dolls or what people choose to own and why. :sweat
       
    5. I personally don't forsee it happening, unless, as isrisfynn already suggested, the company's home country's economy tanked.

      The thing to remember is that a company will stick in the this hobby if they find an appealing niche, not just by how much their dolls actually cost. Although price is usually the final deciding factor for those with limited budgets, it's the aesthetic that brings customers in.

      If you love high realism in you dolls, then I doubt the cartoonish faces of the less expensive companies will get you what you want. basically, the fact that an Angel of Dream Mini sells for about $165 whereas the same size at Iplehouse costs $305 doesn't make a bit of difference if you hate the look of AoD sculpts!

      With that in mind, I don't really see why a company that's making money and selling their dolls would have any need to suddenly come out with a line specificaly for the purpose of making less expensive dolls in their shop. I find the large selection of less expensive dolls, whether being dolls of smaller sizes like MSD and below or simply a company that decides to set their entire price point low, competitive enough.

      As long as the dolls are well made and the makers present themselves well, they will sell some resin.
       
    6. I also don't see it happening, personally. As long as people keep buying from the more expensive companies, those companies will keep their prices the same.

      I actually kind of foresee the less expensive companies raising their prices, if anything.
       
    7. This is an excellent point. It has been a known fact that Chinese companies have two sets of pricing - Chinese and oversea.

      Many companies started with 1 or 2 basic dolls and offered them at a lower price. Their prices and doll collection change as the company grows.

      Dollzone and Angell Studio have been around for a while. Their products are changing and pricing are changing (For Example 3 years ago when Angell Studio first started I got my Youth Adam Pink resin full nake doll for under $300 USD, he is now listed as $420USD). I am pretty sure Chinese Companies may not always be priced as low as before.
       
    8. Well cheaper Chinese companies have been around for years and it hasn't effected the prices of more established companies. The customers who buy the super cheap dolls probably weren't going to buy the more expensive ones anyways, so it's not like the established companies are losing business. I think the cheaper companies are the ones who will have to improve over time, and they will end up raising their prices as they get better and become more well known. (in which case new super cheap companies will probably pop up and fill that void)
       
    9. I can't see why Soom or Luts or Volks would want to make an 'entry-level' doll, since their standard lines constantly sell so well. I don't think Soom et al. really view the Chinese dolls as competition because they're angled at completely different collectors. I think the new companies price their dolls at a cheaper rate because they're new, they don't have an established reputation and their dolls are visibly not as refined as dolls from more established companies. The new companies couldn't charge $300 for a Mini immediately because their Mini probably isn't in the same league as equivalent dolls from Luts, Fairyland, Volks, Iplehouse, Souldoll... and I think a high price would put people off. If they were going to spend $300 on a Mini, most people would spend that money with an established company. Cheaper prices invites people to spend $ with the new company because it's seen as less of a risk than dropping $300 on a doll from an untried and untested company.
       
    10. When I first entered the hobby at the end of 2006 Dream of Doll was considered a "cheap" company and I haven't seen them change their prices a lot. Prices of wages and materials don't fluctuate that much unless you move your casting facility to a lower wages country.

      Maybe doll clothes will become cheaper, because if more people can afford a BJD due to more companies producing dolls for $200 and less, more people will want to buy doll clothes. It's usually a lot cheaper to buy 100 tiny zippers than 10, unless you end up with 90 unused zippers. ^_^
       
    11. Do you think the rise of cheaper Chinese manufacturers (like Bobobie) of BJDs will force a price fall on the more expensive Korean and Japanese BJDs sometime in the near future, especially as their quality improves over the coming years, or do you think that the prices of the Chinese dolls will rise with their quality to become more in line with the other more expensive and higher quality dolls?

      i don't think the more expensive doll companies will drop their prices. i mean, the prices are there to cover all the manufacturing price and whatever it is, that i don't really know. but yeah, they're there, and i don't think the influx of cheaper companies will force them or prompt them to drop their prices. afterall, they're more well-established and people know that they're trustworthy and reliable. so i don't see a reason for them to drop prices. afterall, the doll market is not like other markets, where an increase in competition will cause prices to drop. there's many other factors that influence the buying of dolls, and increase in competition will not be a big factor in the pricing of dolls.

      and i think whether the chinese companies will increase their prices and quality depends on the company itself. it's kind of hard to say, cos some might do both, some might just increase the price after a while without a major improvement in quality(not saying that they won't improve at all, just not much), and some might stay more or less the same. but i think there's a higher chance that they'll improve the quality, and in doing so, have to increase their prices in order for them to still earn a reasonable profit.


      One half of me hopes that prices will fall so I can afford Luts and Soom dolls, but the other half worries that a fall in general price may "cheapen" our hobby. Maybe Luts and Soom will end up making more entry level dolls in order to compete with their Chinese counterparts while still keeping their more expensive ranges for the serious collector.

      i don't really wish to see them making more entry level dolls to compete with the chinese companies. cos, well, i guess i like the dolls that are made for asthetic purposes than just to make a doll for the sake of making one to compete with other companies for prices.
       
    12. I'm not sure. I think that while obviously price does play a part in the choosing of a BJD- you can't have a top-whack Soom if you're on minimum wage and benefits- it's definitely not the deciding factor in most cases. At least I don't think it is.
      It's more likely that you want a doll that fits your desired aesthetic, that fits a character, than just getting a doll because it's cheap. The reason I'm saving and skrimping and counting pennies is to get a more expensive doll that I really want, rather than a cheaper one that I don't.
      I think doll companies recognize this too, so I don't think prices will go down because they're worried that collectors will go for cheaper dolls above more expensive ones. If they do go down, it'll be because of other factors like exchange rates or heaven forbid, another recession.
       
    13. To be honest, I know I am going to love my BBB Mei even if I bought her as an "entry level" doll just to get me into the hobby as she is a really nice head sculpt (although there is room for improvement in her body, so I have no doubts that one day I may well buy a body for her from another company), but I know that once I have her I would want to start saving up for Soom's 80cm dolls. Heck, I already have £200 set aside just for that, and will be adding to it in the coming weeks.

      But it is nice that there are entry level dolls out there and personally I hope that the likes of BBB keep on carving a niche at the cheaper end of the market - they're the doll world VWs while the likes of Luts and Soom are the Mercs of the same. Right now I can only afford a VW but I sure have my eyes on a Merc.

      Phil.
       
    14. Hmm...I've never compared the quality, yet...I'll be getting an AoD body...I have AE and will purchase an Iple (Korean)...I'll be able to compare each other at that time i have 2 of them for sure...but now...my guess is it depends on the quality...people stands for the price bcause they are sure about the quality they are offering (not only the resin, but the sculpt (face, body), the joints, the face-up. etc, etc, etc)...
      Moreover, there are 'currency rate' to be considered as well as 'labor rate'...

      I don't think only 1 aspect like less expensive doll is a main consideration to lower the price as this more expensive doll companies still have fans and people are willing to save money to purchase their dolls...
      besides,mmm...so far i read here, people purchase stuff they love first, not price first...all suggestion i've ever read,"purchase one you love...really like..."...people will still buy it even though it's expensive...I choose the doll i want to purchase based on whether i like it or not (first), then i look into the price...if the price is reachable, i'll go for it...if not, it doesn't mean i want to purchase a less expensive one as a subsitute...I'd rather wait until the money is enough, or search another doll i like and afford at the same time...as simple as that...
       
    15. I don't think the Korean and Japanese BJD prices will fall because of cheaper dolls. From what I've observed, most people are willing to pay for the sculpt they want even if it happens to be a more expensive doll, so they'll always have their customer base.

      If you happen to like a cheaper sculpt, that's great, but unfortunately the dolls I like tend to fall into the more expensive ranges and I'd rather wait and save for what I want, rather than settle for something cheaper but not my first choices.

      Having said that, I did give in and ordered 2 CH anges I hadn't planned on buying because the dolls were too cute and the offer was too good to resist. [​IMG]
       
    16. People will buy what they like, and there's plenty of folks out there that are willing to pay more money if they like the sculpt. This isn't really an either or game--lots of people have variety in their doll families and own dolls from different price ranges. Those who are really on a budget and can only afford less expensive dolls, wouldn't be buying a more expensive doll anyway--it's a different group of consumers.

      As these are luxury items and not goods we have to buy, people going to be more willing to shell out a little more here and there if they really want a doll. I don't see the less expensive dolls and the more expensive dolls really competing that much--companies fill different niches--they have different styles, different price points, are sold in different quantities, etc. If a company can find it's niche and create a product that appeals to people, they'll do just fine in the long run.
       
    17. Labor seems to be cheaper in China right now and that's why I think their dolls are cheaper. The few Chinese dolls I own are wonderful quality and compare favorably to the many Korean and Japanese dolls I have owned. I remember people griping about the quality and prices of Korean dolls versus the quality and prices of Japanese dolls when I first entered this hobby, so it didn't surprise me when Chinese companies started making dolls for it to start all over again. There will always be high-end dolls and low-end dolls. I don't see that national origin has anything to do with it; it has more to do with the artistry and innovation of the product as well as the cost required to produce them. I buy dolls based solely on personal appeal, not price. Korean and Japanese companies are more established and have their own market niche, so I see no reason for them to lower prices except for general currency fluctuation. As Chinese companies become more established and develop brand loyalty, their prices may rise.
       
    18. One thing though is that in the OP it was said 'especially as their quality improves over the coming years'. That sort of seems to imply that the chinese made dolls are of a lesser quality. I find my chinese dolls are on an equal par in quality with my korean ones, I've surprised a few with one of my dolls because they thought he was korean due to his quality.

      If people want something though then they will pay for it. If someone wants, say, a Volks Rengemaru over something cheaper like an Angel of Dream NiNi, the price won't be stopping them, they will wait and save for what they want rather than opt for smething else because it is cheaper surely
       
    19. Well, when my Mei arrives in the post then I can make a more accurate quality comparison, but yes, I think that some of the body sculpts are not as good as say Luts or Soom, but then, they have been in the game for years.

      It's like comparing i-Kore miniatures to Games Workshop. Games Workshop has been going for over 25 years while i-Kore was a relatively new company of barely 18 months. Guess who had the better quality sculpts?

      Neither of them. ;) Some of i-Kore's core sculptors were once Games Workshop staff who moved over to i-Kore during their set-up. It is a shame that i-Kore went bust as they had some really good ideas. I loved their Celtos minis.

      Anyway, I wasn't making any disparaging inflections against the Chinese companies in terms of quality of materials or workmanship, as in that regards their dolls are just as well made as the more established Japanese and Korean companies, but some of their body sculpts do leave a little to be desired.

      Phil.
       

    20. I refer you to Dream Realm Dolls. :)

      BTW, come join us over at LJ in the Over 30 comm! We always welcome more members.