Why the doll sale is so slow these days

Aug 16, 2018

    1. I hear lots of people saying that doll sale are very slow these days. I believe I know why. I'm sure it has to do with the exchange rates the last 4 years. Because outside the American and Asian market, dolls has become up to 100% more expensive the last few years, depending on which Country you live in. (100% in Brazil) And on top of that 20 - 50% VAT and taxes are added.

      In my Country (Norway) it was 40% cheaper to buy a doll just 4 years ago. And 50% cheaper 5 years ago. It's the strong Dollar and the strong Asian currencies that makes it this way. Doll hobby has become way more expensive for people all over the world, except for in the US and in some Asian Countries, typically the ones that has the strongest and fastest growing economy.

      I hope the future can balance our currencies better, so everyone can buy dolls again, because it's obvious that some people has given up on the hobby due to the higher costs.
       
    2. Market over-saturation plays a part in it, too. People have a lot of options these days... there's simply more supply than demand.
       
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    3. I think it may be other factors too that affect the prices not just dollar conversion. For example, the older and bigger a company get the more they would need to increase prices due to material cost and labor cost. For example, the better an artist get at their craft as years go on, they would want more due to their hard work and new skills. Like a newbie won't charge as much as a professional because you do see the quality difference.

      I could be wrong but I think the strong Asian and US economy mean we get cheaper dolls vs a weak economy where the company have to pay more for materials and charge more to cover cost if less people are buying. Like the supply and demand concept. If less people are buying, they have to either reduce to price to get people to buy more or have to increase price to continue run business. The same concept apply if too many people are buying, they would have to charge more to reduce demands. If the Asian economy drop I would assume (not 100% sure) that the Asian companies would get hit with it as well because it affect the overall economy not just the doll industry.
       
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    4. I think this is a big part of it. Even just five years ago, we had maybe half the BJD companies we have now. When I entered the hobby over ten years ago, Bobobie, Angel of Dream and Dollzone were about the only "cheap" companies available at the time (yes, DZ was considered a cheaper doll back then), and there were fewer dealers, so getting a doll was harder and because there were so many fewer companies, secondhand sales were good too. Most dolls listed for sale with reasonable prices were sold within a week or two.

      Now, there are hundreds of companies, and many who offer dolls under $300. While some still have long wait times, others are very short. I think a lot of people would rather buy new than used because of this, unless they can get the secondhand doll at a very good deal--sometimes half the price of a new doll. What is popular also changes regularly. When I was new to the hobby, I saw sculpts sell secondhand at $800+ that now are listed and sitting for months at less than half that price. Whatever is popular now sells quickly, but everything else kind of hangs around.

      Shipping is also a killer. I am in the US, and our shipping rates are outrageous to the point I simply can't afford to cover international shipping myself for trades or even sales. Shipping a full doll in box outside the US can easily cost $100 or more. That puts a lot of buyers off, especially when they may have to pay high customs fees on top of that. I haven't sold a full doll outside the US in ages because of this. Even within the US, for shipping a full SD in box just three states over has cost me $50!

      I also wonder if the average age of collectors affects sales. When I was new to the hobby, I was 25 and I felt like I was younger than almost everybody I knew in the hobby. Most people I knew were older people, out of school, living on their own, working careers or retired, so they had a lot more disposable income. Now I'm seeing lots of teens and college age people in the hobby, and money is much harder to come by when you're still working on becoming independent and deciding what to do with your life.
       
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    5. I think everone has made some very good points so far. I also think that with so many companies available to choose from, that many head sculpts start to look the same. Unless a sculpt is super cheap or pricey but very unique, I skip it because there's a bunch of similar looking heads available. And as for bodies, I usually hybrid to avoid high costs. I only buy within the U.S. too.
       
    6. Market over-saturation, currency exchange rates and the growing recast market.
      Changes in tax and customs laws.

      People also seem to be in and out of the hobby more quickly.

      My personal no-buy reasons: Insane shipping rates for even small parts - resulting in tax/customs fees that are incalculable and often incorrect.
       
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    7. I agree with @CloakedSchemer. When you look at the options newcomers had 10+ years ago vs. now, it’s like an entirely different market considering the tons of dolls available at various “lower” price points, say around $200-$400. I think that situation paired with what seems to be a trend of younger people (i.e. generally less funds to begin the hobby) coming in over the last few years has led to this point where a newbie is more likely to buy a new doll rather than one off the secondhand market, and that potentially starts them off on the path of continuing to buy new dolls in future purchases. Before, checking the Marketplace seemed like people would do first when considering another doll.

      Also, is it just me or have people in the last year been showing more concern over the idea of yellowing? I mean way more so than before.... I’m not sure how or why that started but I swear I see more talk regarding fear of yellowing these days. That could be a reason some people may be hesitant to buy a secondhand doll, which is a bit silly to me because when you see a yellowed doll in person (one is sitting next to me right now), it’s very apparent your doll will not morph into a horrific ripe banana color after a few years.
       
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    8. I can relate to the exchange rates being less than ideal lately. For me it was indeed much cheaper to buy a doll some years ago.
      Custom charges have been getting pretty bad as well. I am in the EU zone. An example: a second hand doll from the USA of $1200 will cost me almost $400 extra because of customs. That is, if I don't use mark down. Sometimes I don't want a lower value on the package because I want the doll to be fully insured. Our postage system is rather rough and they generally don't care if you receive a package with damaged contents.
      On the other hand, buying within the EU zone has become more attractive because I won't have to pay custom charges. Plus the package takes less time to arrive.

      Other things I have noticed are that the lack of a certificate puts people off (we know why, I won't get into that for obvious reasons) or when the asking price of a 5 year old doll (sometimes with damages) is the same as a new one. The first one isn't always a problem to me if I can track down the doll's history or know it didn't come with a certificate to begin with but the latter I personally find annoying. I'm talking about non-limited and readily available sculpts (not sold out). If a doll has a broken finger, is five years old, has obviously yellowed and the asking price is the same as a new doll then I won't buy it. However, these things are all personal. What I won't buy, somebody else might.

      All things considered, I still love buying second hand dolls. Sometimes because sculpts are discontinued or sold out limiteds. A beautiful custom faceup can make me go wild over a sculpt I otherwise wouldn't even consider. What I want to say is, it's not all bad. Yes, it's definitely slower than it used to be but you can find such awesome dolls second hand that even with all the extra money you have to pay, it can still very much be worth it! :3nodding:
       
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    9. I do agree to this. I didn't consider that when I made this post.
      A combination of all these factors are the reason for the situation.
       
    10. I've noticed that, too. Maybe yellowing wasn't so much of an issue a couple of years ago because most dolls were still practically new. (The only severe cases of yellowing I remember were the French resin yellowing and the famous "beauty green".)
       
    11. There are several dolls on the Marketplace I would like to buy, but don't currently have the money, so i'm actually hoping they'll still be up in a few months.

      There's so much choice now that people can afford to be picky, unless it's an old doll that will probably be picked up right away.

      There are also some heads that will probably not get sold because they are unique resin colors and not sold with bodies. Someone is selling an original release Vesuvia head, and while I would not mind paying a large amount of money for a complete Vesuvia, the thought of buying just a head, in that shimmery pearl violet resin that's aged a lot and can't be matched with a body... isn't appealing.
       
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    12. I really don't think that's the issue.
      There is a lot more variety these days, and I haven't had any real problems selling dolls secondhand, which have ranged between $100-$300 or so, and I have sold items internationally. I discount my dolls a fair amount from what you would buy them from the company, though, which I think helps draw people in sooner as well. It's a used item, and if I was a buyer, unless it was limited or the company had a super long wait time... Why would I pay the price of a brand new item (maybe even more) if it is used?

      Maybe if I was selling a doll for a lot more money, like $800, I would be having a hard time but... it's $800. That's a lot of money, especially on a luxury item, when a lot of people have a hard time making money.
      I've also noticed a lot of people don't like doing long layaways, so why would a lot of people buy a doll for $800 when you can get a layway from the company or dealer for longer? Denver Doll, Alice Collection, etc. all have layaways you can get for a few months, and BJDDivas can have a layaway going up to 12 months - a year! If I wanted to say, buy a Dollshe for $800, I could buy it secondhand, yes... beat the wait time... or I could get it on layaway and pay like $70 a month. One is certainly faster, another is far more likely to be doable.

      Many people I see struggling to sell a doll are either selling a doll that is not high in demand, they're overcharging it, or they don't offer layaway at all. Why would someone pay $450 for doll that is several years old, yellowed, with damage when they can buy the same doll new for $400? There is so much variety in the BJD hobby these days, too; people have a lot more options than they did years ago, and tastes change. Dolls are also not a single-use product; every bjd that has ever been produced still exists (and will continue to exist) in some capacity for a long, long time which could lead to a higher saturation of items available secondhand vs actual demand for that particular doll, as well.

      If people are leaving the hobby because they can't afford new dolls, though, I think that might be more of an issue on how they perceive the hobby. You don't need to buy new things to be apart of it, you can just enjoy but you already have. New things can always be exciting but you don't have to be constantly saving up for your next purchase, especially if you learn a craft within the hobby like making clothing, wigs, or eyes yourself. All you really need is a single doll to be able to pretty much do everything in the hobby.

      I feel like to some extent, with the dollar value, you're just seeing it from the "the grass is always greener on the other side" perspective - that it looks better in another person's position, but that isn't always true.
       
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    13. I agree with others that there are a lot of factors at play. I've noticed the stagnation a lot too lately, but I do think a lot more people are selling dolls to afford other things versus selling a doll to buy a different doll. Plus, some of those sellers buy brand new dolls from artists too, so they are not always drawing from the secondhand pool too.
       
      #13 Moorish, Aug 17, 2018
      Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
    14. While the dollar is strong I don't think people have the money they used to. The US economy is a weird animal. I no longer have the disposable income I once did which is why I haven't been buying much. And I do agree that buying newer dolls on layaway is a lot more convenient than the MP right now. Though there are a few dolls I would love to get that can only be found on the marketplace.
       
    15. This topic has come up a lot over the years, and from a Mod perspective, the Market isn't actually that much slower that it ever has been. More dolls get listed since we have an ever growing user base, but the numbers that sell haven't risen at the same rate. A lot of dolls sell on this forum every day, it isn't dead. Again, it's the issue of market saturation making this the case.

      Yes, the recast problem is having an effect. While it's true a some new owners are turned on by buying a cheap knockoff (though really they aren't all that cheap are they?) many of those recast buyers have legit dolls but have turned to recasts. It's like, they feel they've given the community enough support and now they deserve a "break" so to speak. Like they're owed a "Good BJD Buyer Discount Program" now that they've spent X amount of money. So instead of buying first or second hand, they are buying a fake.

      In my case, I've been in the hobby a long time. With 50-something dolls in the house, I have run out of room. If I am going to buy a doll second hand, it can't be on a whim, it has to be the exact something I'm looking for. And whatever I'm looking for, well, it never seems to be for sale. I like weird old things (I bought a HyperManiac Skadi head months ago) and random, kinda obscure newer things that people seem to hold onto. I look at the MP while I'm working on the forum, which means I'm in there several times a day. It's not like I'm just missing out on things. Nobodies selling what I'd buy.
       
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    16. Several BJD makers are overcharging. Like Soom has increased prices and are very expensive. The seller is going to have to take the hit to re-sell it, or otherwise let it stagnate in the marketplace.
       
    17. I've bought three dolls off the MP this year, and in each case it's been something I've been wanting for a while that's hard to get hold of new (or was a limited), and the sellers were offering a steep discount.

      There's certainly more that I'm interested in, but it's kind of a matter of too many good choices. If it's a doll that's readily available new, then even if the MP price is good (and I see plenty of like-new dolls selling at $50 cheaper than new, which combined with only paying domestic shipping is a good bargain, I think), then it still feels like it's safe to wait. If someone else buys the thing I was watching, I'm only out $60 or so and I can still get the doll new if I really want to. And I can see that anything I do buy will be hard to move if I change my mind, even if I'm willing to take a loss, so I won't buy unless I'm really sure.

      Aside from oversaturation, it depends on the company's wait time, too. For example: I'm interested in getting a MNF next year, of which there are plenty listed right now (the mini section feels like Soom and Fairyland-a-palooza some days). However, FL's wait times are short enough that unless I see the exact head/body combo and resin color I want, I'll just order from the company instead. On the other hand, if I were to decide I wanted to try a Dollshe, I'd rather trawl the MP than wait over a year for a new one, even if the color and sculpt aren't 100% what I'd choose myself. Time is almost as important a factor as money to some people, buying or selling.

      I guess that's a long-winded way of saying that the current market overall encourages buyers to be picky.
       
    18. @LuvPetdolls

      I have been following Soom's work for quite a while now, and I too have noticed that their prices have gone up in recent years.
      --But, a lot of their dolls in recent years are more intricate, and have more fantasy parts, and have more detailed and complicated fullset outfits too. Soom has to pay their designers and clothing makers to create and manufacture those items, and if Soom has to pay more to get those items made, they will then have to charge more for their dolls.
      And not to mention that many company profits get siphoned off by recasters, so there is that to consider as well.


      And I also agree with a lot of sentiments so far - it's all about supply and demand. If someone has a really popular head for sale, they will be able to sell it quickly, and at a higher price. If someone has a less-popular item, they will often have it up for sale for a very long time, and maybe need to lower the price. You can see this with OOAK customized dolls. You can have a really interesting customized doll (maybe it cost you a lot to have it customized like that), but it's not likely that someone will want that exact doll for the price you are selling it at.
      Hot product sells quickly, so you see stagnation when people aren't buying less desirable things that stick around.
       
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