Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at the new Magic: The Gathering holiday product, who it targets, and how.

Wizards of the Coast decided to change its Gift Boxes significantly for 2017 and by significantly I mean doing away with them altogether, opting to release the Magic Gift Pack instead.  Most purchasers and players considered the Gift Boxes, with the 4-5 boosters per box and a storage box that would contain some 2000 cards as well as land cards and dividers for $25, a fairly good deal.  The Gift Pack comes with 1 booster pack each of Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation, and Ixalan, as well as 5 foil "shooting star" lands, a foil "Kari Zeb, Skyship Raider," foil "Metalwork Colossus" and a Spindown counter for $20, packed in a plastic-fronted box to show off the product, unlike the Gift Boxes, which illustrated the contents with a photo on the back. Active Magic players appear not to care much for the Gift Pack comparing it to the Pokemon Gift Boxes, with their clear plastic fronts and assortment of booster packs and promotional items and commenting that WotC decided to copy Pokemon in the box design, which really is not a bad hypothesis given the naming of the product and the projected target market.

Target Market.  I have never been a big fan of the term Gift Box for the annual Magic: The Gathering release, since it was not so much gift items as something Magic players would purchase for themselves (as a number of players in the thread linked to above commented).  The target market for a gift box should be exactly that, people looking for a gift to purchase for the Magic player.  Many people shopping for Magic players have no idea what the game is or how to play it, let alone what booster packs, mana and Planeswalker Decks were.  We had to regularly explain to gift buyers what the Magic Gift Box was and why the Magic player in their life would like it.  The Magic Gift Pack solves that problem.  It looks like what customers have been trained over the years to expect a pre-packaged gift set to look like.  If you purchase a gift set of perfumes or foods, they all come packaged in a cardboard box with a clear plastic front, so that both buyer and recipient can clearly see what the box contains.  The change in design certainly indicates that Wizards of the Coast has shifted the targeting for this product from the active Magic player with a secondary market of the gift buyer to making the gift buyer the primary focus of the product SKU (Stock Keeping Unit, a term used to refer to an individual product within a company’s overall product portfolio).  The change in focus is also reflected in the:

Format Change.  The storage box was a nice item for the active Magic player as it provided a handy container in which to store cards.  As noted earlier, the average gift buyer generally does not understand Magic or the storage problems which the game can generate so the usefulness of the box was lost on them.  Changing the name to Gift Pack more accurately reflects the new format and will encourage purchase by gift buyers who otherwise would buy booster packs or decks, which do not look nearly as nice when packaged as a gift.

Overall, I foresee fewer sales of this product to Magic: The Gathering players but greater sales to people looking for gifts for Magic players.  Stores (and WotC) will see if the company made the right decision after the holiday shopping season.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of