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What The Sports Card Industry Can Learn From J. Balvin’s $25,000 Anti-Bot Strategy

Rapper J. Balvin’s latest sneaker release, the Air Jordan 3 “Rio,” saw a unique launch strategy aimed at combating bots, which has created quite a buzz.

The much-anticipated release via the musician’s website included a surprising tactic to deter automated purchasing systems… charging them $25,000.

In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the ingenious curb on bots.

How did J. Balvin fight bots?

When customers attempted to purchase the hyped sneakers, they were greeted with an eye-popping $25,000 subtotal for the shoes. The key to lowering this exorbitant price to the actual retail price of $250 (plus shipping and taxes) was to enter two specific discount codes.

This clever strategy ensured that only genuine customers who carefully followed the instructions could secure the shoes at the intended price. Those who didn’t, including bots, faced the daunting choice of either paying the inflated price or having their card declined.

Reports from social media platform Twitter/X suggest that at least one unfortunate individual ended up in the costly predicament of not applying the discount codes correctly.

While this unconventional approach may have frustrated or deterred some sneaker enthusiasts, it highlights the ongoing battle against resellers who use bots to gain an unfair advantage in acquiring limited-edition releases.

The J. Balvin x Air Jordan 3 “Rio” features a predominantly black design and follows the off-white “Medellín” edition released last fall.

This latest release marks J. Balvin’s fourth collaboration with Air Jordan, following the vibrant Air Jordan 1 in 2020 and the cloud-themed Air Jordan 2 in 2022. This was the first release with anti-bot measures.

Implications for other industries, particularly ports Cards

The innovative anti-bot strategy employed by J. Balvin’s team could have far-reaching implications beyond the sneaker industry. We could feel the effects in the sports card market, which faces similar challenges with bots and resellers (although it’s not nearly the issue it was during 2020 – 2021).

If Topps (or Panini, even) implemented a similar approach to J. Balvin’s, it could ensure that more collectors have a fair chance to purchase cards at retail prices. By requiring multiple discount codes or other verification steps, companies can effectively filter out bots and prioritize real customers.

When minimizing bot purchases, it’s important to note that manufacturers like Nike, or any other supplier, do not bear the financial burden of bot purchases. These companies profit regardless of who buys their products, whether it’s from bots or genuine consumers.

The primary incentive to combat bots comes from a desire to maintain brand integrity and customer loyalty, rather than financial necessity. It’s fan service more than a balance-sheet aid.

What comes next?

Implementing these anti-bot strategies could enhance the buying experience, foster greater customer satisfaction, and build a more loyal customer base for sports card buyers. 

What do you think about the approach from J Balvin? Should Topps take notes? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines. 

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.

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