Chinese Pokemon Card Market Outlook
General China Market: A quick review
Chinese Pokemon demand is typically not as high compared to its English and Japanese versions. However certain Chinese cards still command a decent price, like the Lillie card #202 from AC2B (which looks like the Japanese Extra Battle Day promo card). Will this mark the gradual rise of Chinese Pokemon cards in the ultra modern era? Or is this just a one time wonder for the miracle set -Eevee heroes? Time will tell.
Chinese print runs are still in its early days, as it was first printed around late 2019. These is not much history to go by to understand the print runs. However it appears product have 1, maybe 2 print runs and is out of print. The set Dreams Come True AC2B was released Dec 20, 2019 and was out of print in 6-9 months. Sets like Eevee Heroes were sold out from distributors even faster, much like the English and Japanese sets.
Macro review of the Chinese Market
The main target market of Pokemon cards can be attributed to the age group of 20-34 year olds, which represents 20.65% of the Chinese total Population of 1,450,599,253. That makes the effect target market a population of 299,548,745, and if The Pokemon Company is able to attract 1% of that demographic, it would be just shy of 3 million people.
If they all build a deck that needs 4 copies of a card, thats instantly 12 million copies in demand, excluding ones kept for collections. The strength coming from the size of this market cannot be understated. Of course how many end up transitioning to become collectors is unknown, but anywhere between 1-8% would seem reasonable. This makes the effective working range 30,000 - 240,000 new collectors in the coming years. Recall that the Japanese Post office box collection had a limited print run of 100,000 units. This influx of Chinese collectors would decimate that supply.
Most people collect what is familiar to them, therefore nostalgia plays a large role. Next is language. Most choose to collect what they can read, thus English reigning supreme for a long time, although Japanese has become very popular in the recent few years. It can be expected that most of the new Chinese players who become collectors will choose to collect Chinese cards. Of which, they actually do not have a lot of selection, as Chinese only started from the set Sun and Moon, making it the de-facto modern era base set.
Going further back, Chinese actually had a first edition and unlimited printing of Base set. However back in the day, the release, to my knowledge was not available in mainland China, and only available in Hong Kong (a Special Administrative Region of China. This is a side topic but a important historical factor that has lead to Hong Kong having a separate distributor and different official languages for various card games, like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon).
Whether the Pokemon TCG gains popularity in mainland China is yet to be determined. Although it would be a fairly safe bet.
Recent developments: Mainland China expansion
In May-June 2022 it was announced that Mainland China will be considered its own region, with their its own distributor. With Covid-19 related delays, no firm date is set but the plans was for execution around November. The official language for Pokemon TCG is Simplified Chinese. Currently Traditional Chinese Pokemon TCG is printed for Taiwan and Hong Kong.
More importantly, the card pool for Simplified Chinese needs to catch up with three year's worth of cards to match their Asia Pacific counter parts (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan for all the various different language releases). It is rumoured that they will be reprinting all sets from the beginning of Sun and Moon.
Cool, but what does this all mean for collectors?
It means three very critical things.
First, the chase cards and strong sets will be reprinted, which is likely a good and easy target for collectors and investors alike. Think alternate art rayquaza, eeveelutions, waifus and sealed booster boxes of all those sets.
Second, this release of new cards should somewhat flood the market for a short period (depending on market appetite). Which means the chase cards should be at their cheapest. Even the older print, traditional cards.
Third, it will artificially segregate Chinese cards into two sub-language prints. With a significantly larger mainland China market, I expect simplified Chinese card supply to be far greater than the Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong & Taiwan market). However I also expect the demand for the former to be far greater. This would make Traditional Chinese cards less sought after, thus lower prices, but it will also have a significantly smaller print run.
Remember good old supply and demand?
Going forward I expect:
Traditional Chinese product to be cheap and undervalued compared to Simplified Chinese. Likely to last 1-3 years (very rough guess).
Then, as more players become collectors, some will want to collect Traditional Chinese, as ultimately Traditional Chinese is part of the roots and culture of China. Which means demand for these long out of print products will push prices up in a short period.
To be safe, I would hedge my bets and buy both simplified and traditional Chinese to gain from the overall influx of Chinese players and collectors.
A side note: the mainland Chinese market (younger crowd) is a very fast paced, flashy demographic. They like to show off their wealth, nice clothes, nice cars and do so with the multitude of social media platforms they have, like DouYin (Chinese version of TikTok). There was a Flaunt Your Wealth trend for a while where they took photos pretending to capture the moment they "fell" and display all their wealth in that photo. It captured the nation for a while.
That is why I see the trend of cracking packs, sharing rare and expensive pulls to be popular.
The mass market should adopt modern Pokemon with open arms. There are many deep pocketed collectors in China, and just a handful of them entering the Vintage market could be a game changer, as they will seek out the most expensive cards. This could be great news for Logan Paul!
TL;DR Mainland China will be a new region for PTCG, with Simplified Chinese being its language printed. This is separate to Traditional Chinese. All sets from Sun and Moon will be reprinted. Black swan event with an influx of possibly 3 million players. Hedge and invest both in traditional and simplified Chinese.
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