Supply and Demand

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Supply and demand are two of the principles integral to the science of economics. Chicken Smoothie -- despite being a virtual game -- has its own economy, and supply and demand are equally important within its world. Pets and items are like currency and good/services in the real world, and the prices people are willing to pay has everything to do with scarcity.

By searching through the forums and active trader's groups, one can get a general feel for both the demand and supply of a given pet or item. Good places to start searching for information would include the Trade Boards (both onsite and offsite with particular attention to the swap threads), the Auction Board (both onsite and offsite again), and the CS Discussions Board (specifically the Fair Trade Thread and any sort of relavent value guide). However, to direct the information, a few terms must be established.

Supply: The amount of a particular pet or item up for trade across the website. This only includes the pets/items that the current owner is looking to trade - not the pets that they've locked away into their personal collections.
Current Demand: The amount of people actively seeking a given pet or item. Anyone who is advertising their goal or actively bidding in auctions. Mainly this encompasses people who are seriously searching for the pet or item in question - not so much the vague statements about the given object being "too expensive," which might come up in the search.
Suggested Rate: The price which people tend to suggest on guides or when giving trade advice. This may be inaccurate or outdated, but if people are actively handing out that information they will be influencing trades even if their words are unreliable.
Going Rate: The average price that people are showing off in trades which were, in fact, accepted. Keep in mind the people are more likely to post trades which they think were particularly beneficial to themselves, so the "Known Rate" may be a bit higher than the true average.
Buyer Rate: The average price at which people advertise their willingness to buy a given pet or item.
Seller Rate: The average price at which people advertise their willingness to sell a given pet or item.

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand are the two forces which are truly at the root of the other values. Once those two pieces are known, it is usually clear how the other rates logically ended up the way they are. It's also possible to work out the relative supply and demand by analyzing the patterns that appear within the various rates.

High Supply: If lots of people are selling a given pet or item, it will be harder to sell than buy it. This is because those who wish to buy it have many different vendors to chose from.
Low Supply: If few people are selling a given pet or item, it will be harder to buy than sell it. This is because those who wish to buy it will have few options of where to get it.
High Demand: If lots of people want a given pet or item, it will be harder to buy than sell it. This is because those who wish to sell it will have many offers to chose from.
Low Demand: If few people are trying to buy a given pet or item, it will be harder to sell than buy it. This is because those who wish to sell it will have few people making offers.

High Supply + High Demand = price should be average

Lots of people have it, but a lot of people also want it.

High Supply + Low Demand = price should be lower

Lots of people have it, but not as many want it.

Low Supply + High Demand = price should be higher

Few people have it, but lots want it.

Low Supply + Low Demand = price should be average

Not many people have it, but also not many want it.

Market Rates

When considering different aspects of trading information, there are a few things one must watch out for to stay competitive with their own trading. While looking to see what others have spent can be beneficial, it's still vital to remember that most trades are never made public. Only the very tip is ever visible to the public. Furthermore the market is constantly changing. What might be in high demand could quickly fall out of fashion, while an unnoticed pet may suddenly pick up fans. Anything is possible.

Suggested Rate: While usually those who give trade advice have good intentions, it's possible that people can be wrong or use old information so be careful. Take advice as just a suggestion, and always get multiple opinions!
Going Rate: This is good input if the trade is recent and not near December 18th (rereleases can cause instability in the market, it's not a good time to make baseline assumptions). Ignore outliers (extreme overpay or underpay). Also keep in mind that people are more likely to post their best trades, so the "going" price may appear a bit higher than in reality.
Buyer Rate: You may need to offer similar or more than this if you want to compete against an actively advertising buyer. Otherwise sellers are more likely to go to other buyers who are offering them more for the pet.
Seller Rate: This is the price a seller wants, but they may have unrealistic expectations. Any "auto" bid options in auctions are most likely extreme outliers and shouldn't really be reconsidered in your valuation.