Bundling Information Goods: Pricing, Profits, and Efficiency
AbstractWe study the strategy of bundling a large number of information goods, such as those increasingly available on the Internet, and selling them for a fixed price. We analyze the optimal bundling strategies for a multiproduct monopolist, and we find that bundling very large numbers of unrelated information goods can be surprisingly profitable. The reason is that the law of large numbers makes it much easier to predict consumers' valuations for a bundle of goods than their valuations for the individual goods when sold separately. As a result, this "predictive value of bundling" makes it possible to achieve greater sales, greater economic efficiency, and greater profits per good from a bundle of information goods than can be attained when the same goods are sold separately. Our main results do not extend to most physical goods, as the marginal costs of production for goods not used by the buyer typically negate any benefits from the predictive value of large-scale bundling. While determining optimal bundling strategies for more than two goods is a notoriously difficult problem, we use statistical techniques to provide strong asymptotic results and bounds on profits for bundles of any arbitrary size. We show how our model can be used to analyze the bundling of complements and substitutes, bundling in the presence of budget constraints, and bundling of goods with various types of correlations and how each of these conditions can lead to limits on optimal bundle size. In particular we find that when different market segments of consumers differ systematically in their valuations for goods, simple bundling will no longer be optimal. However, by offering a menu of different bundles aimed at each market segment, bundling makes traditional price discrimination strategies more powerful by reducing the role of unpredictable idiosyncratic components of valuations. The predictions of our analysis appear to be consistent with empirical observations of the markets for Internet and online content, cable television programming, and copyrighted music.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.
Volume (Year): 45 (1999)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
bundling; aggregation; Internet; pricing; information goods; digital goods;
Other versions of this item:
- Yannis Bakos & Erik Brynjolfsson, 1997. "Bundling Information Goods: Pricing, Profits and Efficiency," Working Paper Series 199, MIT Center for Coordination Science.
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.