Shining the Future – Papers of MDC Mexico: Marketing

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Honeycutshome

July 8, 2014 – From May 11 to 14, 2014, the Mints were meeting in Mexico. As usual, the sessions were divided, so that the one group addressed technical advancements while the other discussed marketing issues. Kirsten Petersen of the Austrian Mint had scheduled a highly intriguing program that focused on the new media and the direct contact between mint and customer. What it all amounts to is that there is a strong tendency to eliminate all parties of the intermediary trade, if possible, and not so much continue to focus on the traditional collector but to open up a new range of customers. The coin becomes a recoverable souvenir and a lifestyle product.
Here you can find a summary of all papers given in those sessions where marketing was concerned.
If you want to go directly to one of the paper summaries just follow these links:

Monday, May 12, 2014 – Today’s World
Patrick Hadsipantelis of the Royal Canadian Mint spoke about the use of the new media in gaining new customers. He observed that today every customer expects to get all the information he wants on every platform at every time – PC, tablet and mobile – and of course likewise to buy all products that way. By the use of these new media, the Royal Canadian Mint had grown its revenues almost 2.5 times and its customers 3 fold in the Numismatics and Collectibles business. A huge success! That had been made possible only by the digital channels, both the Mint’s website and all paid advertisements and Social Media. This was why the Mint would be much more engaged in the internet in the future. New apps would be created and hence, through fun and games, take advantage of all opportunities in order to bring relevant content to the customers.

The same conclusion was reached by Ms. Claude Griffin of Monnaie de Paris. After using Facebook for 3 years, the mint had gained 126.000 fans, making Monnaie de Paris the 3rd French cultural site on social networks. The reason for this result lay in the site’s good maintenance. For example, contests are offered on a regular basis – with great success. Second-favorite subject were postings on new products. Likewise successful was conversation traditional style, hence a kind of answer to a question. Especially popular were numismatic stories.
Two things had to be avoided. The site must not feature too many advertisements and hence appear too commercial. On the other hand, a good quality of the offered films and images was essential. The users were used to very high standards in that department. It would always be better to not show a film at all than one of a poor quality.
In order to be active on all Social Network platforms, Monnaie de Paris had employed a full-time person responsible the web presentation. In addition, the mint had appointed an agency to support and advise Monnaie de Paris on every social tools. The audience naturally wanted to know about the costs involved. Claude Griffin pointed out that the new responsibilities were no strain on the budget at all, but thanks to engaging in the Social Media the company can now do without many classical forms of advertisement.

René Van Dijk of Royal Dutch Mint was next, and he showed with the example of the royal succession in the Netherlands that a small advertising budget need not be an obstacle for getting the attention of an entire country.
On January 28, 2013, the then reigning Queen Beatrix informed the surprised public that she intended to abdicate on April 30, 2013, leaving the throne to her son. By that, Royal Dutch Mint faced the rare chance to change the national side of the euro coins. In addition, the mint wanted to take advantage of the opportunity in order to gain new collectors and, in order to do so, developed a thorough strategy. First of all, it was decided that the number of products should not be increased to put not too heavy a burden on the standing collector base. Instead, the issue volume of some products was increased. By sticking to the old issue volumes with some selected few products, something of a shortage was created which generated an appreciation on the secondary market. The long-term collectors were particularly since cared for since they were able to get every product at the issue price after subscribing. The sheer knowledge of this fact increased the number of subscription by 25%.
As far as the intermediary trade is concerned, Royal Dutch Mint followed a different approach than many other mints. It involved the dealers in their plans right from the beginning and reserved 25% of the issue exclusively for them.
The ultimate success was achieved thanks to the incredible media response to the introduction of the new coin portrait. The royal visit to the mint prompted a particularly high number of reports, in all of the guiding media at the prime time. The result was excellent. Royal Dutch Mint not only managed to increase its sales but to gain new customer and interested parties on the broadest level possible.

The session’s last paper was given by Kate Holms, likewise of Royal Canadian Mint. She spoke about the influence exerted by the increase of products of a different kind on the social structure of the collectors.
She characterized the ‘typical’ customer of 2007: male, white, middle-aged, with an interest in history as well as traditional designs. The goal was to not focus on this type of collector, but to widen the range of customers which was why PR measurements were implemented at public events. A highly successful occasion was: the Olympic Games at Vancouver. As producer of the Olympic Medals, the mint provided the audience with the chance to have a look at them in the original state. 140,000 visitors who did not look at all like the traditional collector showed up to do just that. For them, new products had been created and new sale channels had been opened up. Today, commemorative coins could be acquired at the Canadian Post and in department stores. According to Kate Holms, the partnerships with widely known institution such as the National Hockey League of the Canadian Football League have proven very successful as well. This new orientation had generated 178,000 new customers with a lifetime value of $63m to date. And ambitions of the Royal Canadian Mint reached even further: there were 13.3m households in Canada. So far about 300,000 of them buy RCM products. The mint, however, will be aiming at 800,000 or even 1m households.

The Future of the Bullion Market and the Coin Hobby
Terry Hanlon of Dillon Gage opened the sessions with his paper on the current situation of the bullion market and how one had got there. Everybody was aware of the incredible price rises that were fueled by the global financial crisis in the past decade. Demand had shifted from the West to the East. Today’s important market, he says, are located in China and India. Bullion had become a mainstream investment that naturally attracted many new market players and created new products. Exchange-traded funds, for example, had changed the bullion market, but had not render the real bar obsolete. In short, Terry Hanlon saw marvelous opportunities for new products that an eager market would be more than pleased to incorporate.

What would the typical buyer of bullion look like in the year 2020? What would he buy? These were the questions Peter Hug of Kitco asked. He distinguished four types: the collector who bought small quantities that he tried to keep as long as possible. The fatalist – or apocalyptic, more like it – who expected the end of global economy and wanted to be prepared for barter trade. There is the conservative who invested a share of his capital in bullion. The fourth is the trader, or perhaps adventurer, who wanted to gain profit by what he was doing. While the market potential for bullion would surely diminish in a stable economic situation, the collector in particular would be a loyal customer that would not react to fluctuating gold prices. On this occasion, Peter Hug advocated intriguing designs and predicted an end of the ‘limited edition’-hype.

Michael Haynes of Apmex concluded that day with his contribution on the explosion of the internet trade. He showed that the digital market has risen exponentially over the previous years, most of all in China. While in 2008, 226m internet users had spent an average of $627, today the number of users amounted to 272m spending an average of $1,177.
A smart system could analyze the data gathered from the sales to serve the customers tailored to their needs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Customers in the Modern World
Teru Fujita explained how difficult it was to open up a range of active, young customers in the light of the restrictions imposed on Japan Mint as a national company. Currently, the customer base was ageing. To maintain the current status, a questionnaire survey had been carried out of the current customers. It was proven that in Japan it was mainly men aged 50+ who collected coins. When compared to the demographic structure of Japan, that segment is over-represented. Most of these customers had started collecting at an early age. That is an alarming fact since currently these age categories did not collect. The question was if there was a slump with Japanese collectors to be expected.
To improve customer relations, the Japanese mint particularly cared for its loyal customers by continuing sales of standard items as well as by sending out a special information brochure. The mint tried to turn casual customers into loyal customers by intensive service and promotion in other media. As a matter of fact, the number of customers rose significantly until 2008.

Matthew Mould of The Royal Mint reported about measures to for engaging the public with their coins. Recent survey highlighted that 48% of the public did not know that there are eight coin denominations.
Hence, the aim was to attract more attention. The plan was to get the public involved in the making of special coins. Highly successful was the public contest for the layout and the selection of 29 different designs for the 50p issued on the occasion of the Olympic Games. Another PR measure was the creation of a statue of Gromit by the mint in 2013, on the occasion of a charity event in Bristol. That measure brought the mint great sympathies and invaluable promotion in the most diverse media.
Another contest, announced on Facebook, likewise was a great success, promising every child that was being born on the birthday of the royal baby a newly minted silver penny. It not only generated 11,000 new Facebook fans but was invaluable promotion in many media: 1,300 pieces of tracked media coverage with a very favourable tone. The costs had amounted to £32,000. The equivalent media value of PR was a high as £5 m.
Matthew Mould introduced another measure that aimed at opening up the Chinese market for The Royal Mint. A coin from the series of Chinese lunar calendar was presented in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Invited to participate were not just the most important Chinese and US media but likewise representation from the Arts community and UK based Chinese business and commerce organisations. The launch got picked up by the main Chinese state news programmes, providing excellent coverage in the target territory, and boosted the sale of the product.

Coins were produced as early as 1742 in the Casa de Moneda de Chile, as Francisco Mandiola pointed out. However, the country had not turn into a nation of coin collectors yet. Hence, Chile was a good example for the many countries with a great potential to build an engaged collector base. After all, Chile’s population amounted to 16.3m people with the highest per capita income in Latin America. More than 4m tourists came every year to visit the country, spending more than $320m.
1.1m potential customers – that was what the Casa de Moneda de Chile was aiming for. The sales channels for their selection of products included coin fairs, shops and the internet. The products consisted not only of coins but first and foremost of medals and, since May 2014, a new bullion coin: the new gold troy ounce ‘Chilean Condor’.

Prior to the competition for the most beautiful packaging, Richard Borek of MDM Deutsche Münze elaborated on innovations of products and packaging on the coin market. He deemed the collector coins prior to 2009 a bit boring. The products had only differed in their year of issue, their metal and their specifications or the strike. Due to the vast range of offers the market had been more or less saturated.
A change had been noticeable when new target audiences were addressed that expected innovative ideas for coins as well as packaging. Mainly the market in Eastern Europe and Asia with the new customer demands had stimulated the coin collector’s market. New technologies, but likewise completely novel forms of coins had fundamentally changed the collector’s world. A third dimension, ink and separately added materials as well as new, elaborate and pricy packaging ideas had made the collectible become a lifestyle object, opening up new target audiences. The packaging was a means to create an emotional link between the coin and the underlying ideas.

If you want to read about what was discussed in the Plenary Sessions please click here.
If you want to read about what was discussed in the Technical Session please click here.
If you want to read an article on the entire MDC in Mexico please click here.