US Coins

Mint focus groups help decide products

Focus groups conducted on behalf of the U.S. Mint included discussions of adding intaglio-printed engraved Presidential portrait cards from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing with silver Presidential medals struck by the U.S. Mint for a joint product packaged under a partnership between the two Treasury Department bureaus.

Image courtesy of U.S. Mint.

The U.S. Mint authorized a contractor to conduct in-person focus groups with a select number of current and potential Mint customers across the country, getting input on a variety of numismatic products the bureau is contemplating for release in 2019 or later.

Coin World has learned additional details about the meetings and some of the products discussed since the story was first reported on on Sept. 14 and in the Oct. 1 print and digital issue.

Greg Dawson, the U.S. Mint’s deputy associate director for numismatics and bullion, told Coin World during a Sept. 18 telephone interview that, by the time NAXION completes its research, more than a dozen focus groups will have been held in 11 different states.

The Philadelphia-based NAXION, previously known as National Analysts Worldwide, is an American marketing research company that originally worked as a division of the Curtis Publishing Co. NAXION has conducted in-person and web-based surveys on behalf of the Mint for many years.

Scripted interviews

According to Dawson, NAXION conducted scripted interviews with the focus groups, which comprise between eight and 12 people per group. A Mint representative was present at each of the focus group sites.

In the spring, focus groups were staged in San Francisco and Indianapolis, and in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Edison, New Jersey. The target for those groups was youth-oriented numismatic products, Dawson said.

During the early summer, focus groups were held in Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Kansas City, Kansas. Specific products under consideration that were discussed at the early summer meetings were a 20th Anniversary gold Sacagawea coin, international sets and the bundling of joint packaging of U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced items.

A few new product details

The Mint has provided additional details about some of those proposed products.

The Sacagawea gold coin would be .9999 fine, according to Dawson. 

The BEP/Mint product discussed would pair intaglio-printed, engraved Presidential portrait cards with a respective Presidential 1-ounce silver medal. 

The BEP has long offered intaglio portrait cards of presidents in its products catalog, and starting Oct. 1, all BEP collector products will be sold online only through the U.S. Mint website, since the BEP has closed its online store. Mint and BEP officials have revealed plans for a closer partnership for the future, in conjunction with the merger of the two bureau’s online sales ventures.

International sets would comprise U.S. Mint-produced coins or medals and those of other world mints under joint partnership. Specifically discussed was a silver bullion set including an American Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf and Mexican Libertad. Dawson said it hasn’t been determined whether all of the coins would bear identical or different finishes.

Such a set would not be the first product offered by the U.S. Mint to feature coins from two different nations. In 2000, the Mint sold a two-coin set in recognition of the 1,000th anniversary of Leif Ericson’s first voyage to what became the Americas. The set featured a Proof 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium silver dollar from the U.S. commemorative coin program, and a Proof 2000 silver 1,000-kronur coin from Iceland’s commemorative program. Both coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. In total, 86,168 sets were sold, first at a pre-issue price of $63 and then at a regular price of $68.

Soon to be conducted focus groups slated for early fall are to be held in Detroit, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.

Those sessions will present potential product options for the American Innovation $1 Coin Program. Fifty-seven coins are to be issued, the first in 2018 with a generic design, and the remaining issued beginning in 2019 to celebration in each state, territory and the District of Columbia. 

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