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Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Brief Analysis of the Inscription Market

To gauge where the competitive threats lie in the inscription market below is a brief analysis:

There are 3 sources of herbs and inks for crafting: yourself by farming the herbs and milling herbs; a (legal) farmer that you hire to farm the herbs; and the AH to buy the herbs or inks. The cheapest source is yourself though the best time / gold source is a (legal) farmer that you hire. Most of us, though, will buy herbs from the AH to mill.
Technically, there is a fourth source and that is the ability to convert one blackfallow ink into each of the main inks (or 10 for each inferno ink). Therefore, on most servers, the price of the blackfallow ink will dictate the price of the other inks – as was the case with Ink of the Sea when it was the main ink – given it is the common currency ink.
If farming is your taste (and i occasionally do it - the best farming spot of herbs is whiptail at Without competition i can gather 20 stakes an hour which equates to 133 glyphs made for free and c30 inferno inks produced for free.
In all, there should be a good source of inks and herbs available to purchase and this is rarely a problem other than at patch changes which alter demand and supply.

Customers are price takers in my experience. When someone wants to buy a glyph they will take the cheapest one on offer at the AH at that time – unless it is priced off the dials (i have never had problems selling at my fall back price of 400 gold). See my opinion that glyphs are a capital item in a prior post.
Customers have two other sources for glyphs: firstly they can buy the herbs or inks themselves and seek out a scribe to craft; secondly they can seek out a scribe in their guild. In my experience, neither is a big threat to the inscription market.

For glyphs and certificates of ownership there is no substitute. No other item can replicate them and they don’t drop from mobs nor can they be acquired from any NPCs. Player scribes are the only source.
For off-hands, scrolls and cards there are substitutes and hence other items in the game compete against them.

Because inscription lends itself to automation through addons the competition is intense. This is the killer in inscription. Don’t expect to put a glyph on the AH and it not to be undercut in under an hour off peak times, and in under 5 minutes on peak times.
It may look like the market is full of competitors but it is more likely there are a few hard core players with alts and then part time competitors. In any given month i will see one or perhaps two new entrants into the inscription market who will drop out after a couple of weeks, it that.
When a customer comes to the AH to buy a glyph, yours needs to be the lowest price. The customer will buy at almost any price – hence the deciding factor of the sale is whether you were the last to post that glyph in the AH. Lowering the price will not attract customers, so compete on “being there” not “on price”.

Threat of new entrants
The Barriers to entry to inscription are low. You don’t need rep, honour points, justice points, nor do you need complete any quests. In fact, you need never leave the AH in a main city to get access to all craftable items. All you need is the gold to buy the herbs to mill or ink to craft with and lots of time (2 to 3 months) to do the final research or (much) more gold to buy the Books of Glyph Mastery.
The rarity of Books of Glyph Mastery means that the profession is harder for new people to break into quickly - meaning the numbers of competitors in this market is slowly declining.
The initial outlay to stock up is low. For example, if you were to make 8 of each glyph then the initial outlay will be 33x8x10x15 = c40000 gold.
Fortunately, the barriers to exit are low as well – which is just as well given many new entrants leave when they realise how competitive the market is.

for this and other ideas on the glyph market please follow the link to the free Croda's Inscription Gold Guide

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