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Slotting Allowances and New Product Introductions


Author Info

  • Martin A. Lariviere

    (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

  • V. Padmanabhan

    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305)

Registered author(s):


    Slotting allowances—lump sum transfers from manufacturers to retailers for carrying new products—have become an important part of promotional agreements over the past decade. Hardly known before the mid-1980s, they now represent a significant cost to launching a new entry in a wide range of product categories. Despite being commonplace, slotting allowances have remained extremely controversial both with manufacturers and retailers. The controversy, in part, follows from a poor understanding of the role that slotting allowances actually play in new product introductions. We attempt to clarify the purpose slotting allowances serve by relating the payment of a slotting allowance to the retailer's cost structure and informational asymmetries within a channel. We consider a manufacturer introducing a new product into a retail channel. The retailer is independent of the manufacturer and only accepts the product if he expects to recover a positive fixed cost at the terms of trade offered by the manufacturer. Following acceptance, the retailer exerts merchandising effort and sets the retail price. We show that if the manufacturer and the retailer are equally informed of the product's demand, the terms of trade never include a slotting allowance. High retail costs are compensated through a lower wholesale price. Similarly, if the manufacturer is better informed of the product's demand, she prefers to convey that information through the wholesale price alone. That is, a high wholesale price, not a slotting allowance, is the manufacturer's preferred signaling instrument. Signaling with the wholesale price alone fails, however, when the retailer has high fixed costs. To convey information and assure retailer participation, the terms of trade must include a positive slotting allowance. A slotting allowance thus serves two purposes in launching a product: passing information down to the retailer and shifting costs up to the manufacturer. We show that the manufacturer prefers paying a slotting allowance to undertaking purely wasteful advertising. A principal virtue of a slotting allowance, then, is keeping money within the channel. Our work is novel along two important dimensions. First, others (e.g., Chu [Chu, Wujin. 1992. Demand signaling and screening in channels of distribution. (4, Fall) 327–347.]) have assumed that slotting fees arise as manufacturers respond to retailer demands. Here, the manufacturer willingly offers an allowance. As a consequence, slotting allowances do not represent a windfall for the retailer; he merely breaks even on a product for which a slotting allowance is paid. Second, we tie the payment of a slotting allowance to the retailer's fixed cost and the overall terms of trade. This allows us to consider a number of comparative statics with interesting implications. For example, a retailer may receive a slotting allowance for some categories and not for others if his costs differ across categories. A “slotted” product is offered at a lower wholesale price which results in greater retailer effort than for a product on which no allowance is paid. Over a range of fixed costs, greater retailer effort should be correlated with a higher slotting allowance. Finally, for a specific functional form, we show that slotting allowances become more common (in the sense that they are paid over a greater range of retailer costs) as the retailer has greater merchandising ability.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

    Volume (Year): 16 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 112-128

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:16:y:1997:i:2:p:112-128

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    Related research

    Keywords: slotting allowances; channel management; asymmetric information; new product introductions; signaling; performance guarantees;


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    Cited by:
    1. Rennhoff, Adam D., 2004. "Paying For Shelf Space: An Investigation Of Merchandising Allowances In The Grocery Industry," Research Reports 25155, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
    2. Carlyle Farrell & Gervan Fearon, 2005. "Renting Goodwill in International Marketing Channels: An Analysis of Pricing Strategies and Bargaining Power," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 33(3), pages 285-296, September.
    3. Oystein Foros & Hans Jarle Kind & Jan Yngve Sand, 2008. "Slotting Allowances and Manufacturers’ Retail Sales Effort," CESifo Working Paper Series 2396, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Oystein Foros & Hans Jarle Kind, 2006. "Do Slotting Allowances Harm Retail Competition?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1800, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Gärtner, Dennis L & Buehler, Stefan, 2009. "Making Sense of Non-Binding Retail-Price Recommendations," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt51z312zt, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    6. João Correia-da-Silva & Joana Pinho & Hélder Vasconcelos, 2013. "Cartel stability and profits under different reactions to entry in markets with growing demand," FEP Working Papers 487, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    7. Geng, Qin & Minutolo, Marcel C., 2010. "Failure fee under stochastic demand and information asymmetry," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 269-279, November.
    8. Guillermo Israilevich, 2004. "Assessing Supermarket Product-Line Decisions: The Impact of Slotting Fees," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 141-167, June.
    9. Innes, Robert & Hamilton, Stephen F., 2006. "Naked slotting fees for vertical control of multi-product retail markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 303-318, March.
    10. Gabrielsen, Tommy Staahl, 2005. "Slotting Allowances and Buy-Back Clauses," 2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark 24580, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. DeVuyst, Cheryl Sinn, 2000. "Slotting Allowances, Failure Fees And Asymmetric Information In The Grocery Supply Chain," 2000 Annual Meeting, June 29-July 1, 2000, Vancouver, British Columbia 36388, Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    12. Rao, Akshay R. & Mahi, Humaira, 2000. "Slotting Allowances: Empirical Evidence On Their Role In New Product Launches," Working Papers 14348, University of Minnesota, The Food Industry Center.
    13. Dmitri Kuksov, 2009. "Communication strategy in partnership selection," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 267-288, September.
    14. Marie-Laure Allain & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2006. "Retail structure and product variety," Working Papers hal-00243032, HAL.
    15. Shamir, Noam, 2012. "Strategic information sharing between competing retailers in a supply chain with endogenous wholesale price," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 352-365.
    16. Glenn, David, 2004. "Returns Policies for a Pessimistic Retailer," Working Papers 04-0111, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    17. Pio Baake & Vanessa Schlippenbach, 2014. "The Impact of Upfront Payments on Assortment Decisions in Retailing," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 95-111, February.
    18. Xing, Dahai & Liu, Tieming, 2012. "Sales effort free riding and coordination with price match and channel rebate," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 219(2), pages 264-271.
    19. DeVuyst, Cheryl Sinn, 2002. "Non-Credible Information Flows Between Food Manufacturers And Retailers," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 33(03), November.


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