First to Market

1994. That’s the year that Netscape was first founded. Some of you may have no recollection of this once-great internet browser. At the time, they were the first and only real web-browser as we understand them today. As a result of being first to market, they had a huge advantage and all other browsers—including the now ubiquitous Internet Explorer—were struggling to keep up.

Of course, their reign at the top did not last as others caught up and eventually surpassed the internet giant. But what does this have to do with making gold? Well, being first to market can be a significant advantage in your gold-making endeavor, but don’t rely on it as your primary strategy. Find out how to take advantage of being first to market after the jump.


Why it Works
The concept is simple. If you are the first to meet demand for an item, you stand to make some good profit. There is a small set of people who have a large amount of disposable gold and are impatient, needing the best stuff right now. Meeting the needs of those handful of people can be quite lucrative.

In the waning days of patch 4.1, lots of bloggers were talking about the upgraded PvP gear recipes coming in 4.2. People would want this gear, so we wanted to get it on the Auction House quickly and make some good profit. But there was also news of a nerf to Tanks everywhere: Agility would no longer grant dodge chance to Plate-based Tanks. To compensate, a new leg enchant was being created for Tanks: Drakehide Leg Armor.

As a Tank myself, I knew that Tanks are often among the most impatient for the newest gear and enchants. Consider:

  • The patch would release on a Tuesday, with a new raid. 
  • Lots of guilds were entering the raid that night. 
  • Tanks needed to replace their leg enchant. 
The conditions were perfect for capitalizing on being first to market.

At this point, I didn’t even have a max level leatherworker. I knew this would be a good market to be in, so I power-leveled leatherworking to the tune of about 10k. After the first hour of the patch's release, I had sold 5 enchants for around 30k in profit. More would roll in throughout the evening, but with significantly reduced profits because of increased competition and undercutting.

When does it pay to be first?
So when are conditions right for being first to market? Well, here are some common opportunities:
  • Raid Patches: Cataclysm changed the normal cycle of patches, where every patch contained a raid. For those that include a new raids, it also typically signals the start of the new PvP season as well. Since you already know the recipes thanks to the new model for crafted PvP gear, queue up your gear before the patch, get all the mats in your bag and log out by the AH. As soon as you’re in, process your craft queue, post the items and you’re off. 
  • Class Changes: It’s not uncommon for Blizzard to make class balance changes with each patch, but sometimes hotfixes shift stat values mid-patch. Sometimes this means people will switch specs or have new stat priorities. This is an opportunity to sell new enchants, gems and glyphs. Track the upcoming changes at places like MMO-Champion.com and their repercussions on forums like ElitistJerks.com. If you don’t play a class, this is your best bet for finding out what the changes mean to a class. 
  • New/Updated Recipes: The Molten Front added new recipes for several professions. Sometimes, new glyphs, enchants or gems are added to vendors, trainers or as world drops. While recipes will sometimes cost more to purchase in those first hours/days, they also have a higher profit margin at first.
When have you found it lucrative to be first to market? What are some examples where you hit home runs being first? Where did you strike out? What other groups are "early purchasers" you could pursue?

I consider myself a somewhat casual auctioneer. I can be found via Twitter @Aleithia3. I also like getting email at Aleithia AT jasonthedce DOT com. Send me your questions and I'll try to write about them on the site.

3 comments: on "First to Market"

  1. Excellent points about being first
    to market.

    The one thing I find important with being first is that I set the threshhold price and where things start.

    The problem with this is that it's a guarantee that you will be undercut quickly and methodically during the entire day. So you either have to babysit those auctions (not something that I'm a big fan of in my personal life) or you end up keeping an eye on things.

    This is where the Auction House Ap comes into play. It gives you a good idea to keep an eye on what you have been outbid on your large items and relist quickly.

    Also with being first to market means that you have a little bit more control over how other people list. If you have a general idea of what mat costs are going to be (especially if you have stocked up) then if someone lists under your threshhold you can jump on them quickly, grab them and reset your price.

    I did this constantly with the Drakhide leg armor because I was one of the first 3 on my server to have them. I know I was shooting for a 1100g threshhold to list that first week. So anytime someone popped one at 500g I grabbed it and relisted it at my 1100. Including all that I had stockpiled I did my scrooge mcduck money dive all that week.

    As a previous article mentioned. It's going to be the enchants that are going to be the hot item. especially the big weapon and bracer enchants (agi, str, int to bracers and Landslide/Heartsong etc). These are going to blow up because people will be snagging new weapons on just about every boss fight.

  2. @Mommar: Great points. Babysitting your auctions and tools like the AH app will increase profits quite a bit.

    I'm not usually a fan of the babysitting strategy because I don't find it fun, but in this case the annoyance/hassle of babysitting is often worth it because of the big pay-off.

  3. I agree with the idea of not being a fan of babysitting my auctions. But then where I like to have a mailbox full of gold, I don't worry myself with having to squeak out every last bit of gold for my investments.

    babysitting your auctions is very similar to a day trading philosophy for stocks. You make your money on the little changes and the flow of the stocks. And you make your money on the margins and not just for the long term sitting on auctions and stock.

    For something like glyphmas it wasn't important to be first to market because the glyphs were flying off the AH as fast as they could be made. Especially the ones that weren't available anymore due to a developer snafu.

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