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When Do Large Buyers Pay Less? Experimental Evidence

  • Bradley J. Ruffle

The rise in mega-retailers has contributed to a growing literature on buyer power and large-buyer discounts. According to Rotemberg and Saloner (1986) and Snyder (1998), large buyers’ ability to obtain price discounts depends on their relative (rather than absolute) size and the degree of competition between suppliers. I test experimentally comparative statics implications of this theory concerning the number of sellers and the sizes of the buyers in the market. The results track the comparative statics predictions to a surprising extent. Subtle changes in the distribution of buyer sizes or the number of suppliers can create or negate large-buyer discounts. The results highlight the previously unexplored role of the demand structure in determining buyer-size discounts. Furthermore, the experiments establish the presence of small-buyer premia, not anticipated by the theory.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The Journal of Industrial Economics.

Volume (Year): 61 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 108-137

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:61:y:2013:i:1:p:108-137
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  1. John A. List, 2009. "The Economics of Open Air Markets," NBER Working Papers 15420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Snyder, Christopher M., 1998. "Why do larger buyers pay lower prices? Intense supplier competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 205-209, February.
  3. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2004. "Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 435-446, April.
  4. Robert Feinberg & Christopher Snyder, 2002. "Collusion with secret price cuts: an experimental investigation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(6), pages 1-11.
  5. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts, 2005. "Collusion in Growing and Shrinking Markets: Empirical Evidence from Experimental Duopolies," Discussion Papers 2005-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  6. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2002:i:6:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Engle-Warnick, J. & Slonim, Robert L., 2006. "Learning to trust in indefinitely repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 95-114, January.
  8. Sara Fisher Ellison & Christopher M. Snyder, 2010. "COUNTERVAILING POWER IN WHOLESALE PHARMACEUTICALS -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 32-53, 03.
  9. Christopher M. Snyder, 1996. "A Dynamic Theory of Countervailing Power," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 747-769, Winter.
  10. Feinberg, Robert M & Husted, Thomas A, 1993. "An Experimental Test of Discount-Rate Effects on Collusive Behaviour in Duopoly Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 153-60, June.
  11. John Haltiwanger & Joseph E. Harrington Jr., 1991. "The Impact of Cyclical Demand Movements on Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 89-106, Spring.
  12. Kandori, Michihiro, 1991. "Correlated Demand Shocks and Price Wars during Booms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 171-80, January.
  13. Hans-Theo Normann & Bradley J. Ruffle & Christopher M. Snyder, 2007. "Do buyer-size discounts depend on the curvature of the surplus function? Experimental tests of bargaining models," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(3), pages 747-767, 09.
  14. Aoyagi, Masaki & Fréchette, Guillaume, 2009. "Collusion as public monitoring becomes noisy: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1135-1165, May.
  15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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