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Vertical control of a distribution network—an empirical analysis of magazines

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  • Stijn Ferrari
  • Frank Verboven

Abstract

How does an upstream firm determine the size of its distribution network, and what is the role of vertical restraints? To address these questions we develop and estimate two models of outlet entry, starting from the basic trade-off between market expansion and fixed costs. In the coordinated entry model the upstream firm sets a market-specific wholesale price to implement the first-best number of outlets. In the restricted/free entry model the upstream firm has insufficient price instruments to target local markets. It sets a uniform wholesale price, and restricts entry in markets where market expansion is low, while allowing free entry elsewhere. We apply the two models to magazine distribution. The evidence is more consistent with the second model where the upstream firm sets a uniform wholesale price and restricts the number of entry licenses. We use the model to assess the profitability of modifying the vertical restraints. A government ban on restriced licensing would reduce profits by a limited amount, so that the business rationale for restricted licensing should be sought elsewhere. Furthermore, introducing market-specific wholesale prices would implement the first-best, but the profit increase would be small, providing a rationale for the current uniform wholesale prices.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stijn Ferrari & Frank Verboven, 2012. "Vertical control of a distribution network—an empirical analysis of magazines," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(1), pages 26-50, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:43:y:2012:i:1:p:26-50
    DOI: j.1756-2171.2011.00156.x
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1756-2171.2011.00156.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gallini, Nancy T. & Winter, Ralph A., 1983. "On vertical control in monopolistic competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 275-286, September.
    2. Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, 2007. "Vertical Relationships between Manufacturers and Retailers: Inference with Limited Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 625-652.
    3. G.F. Mathewson & R.A. Winter, 1984. "An Economic Theory of Vertical Restraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 27-38, Spring.
    4. Miklós-Thal, Jeanine & Rey, Patrick & Vergé, Thibaud, 2010. "Vertical relations," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 345-349, July.
    5. Céline Bonnet & Pierre Dubois, 2010. "Inference on vertical contracts between manufacturers and retailers allowing for nonlinear pricing and resale price maintenance," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(1), pages 139-164.
    6. Martin K. Perry & Robert H. Groff, 1985. "Resale Price Maintenance and Forward Integration into a Monopolistically Competitive Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1293-1311.
    7. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, 1985. "Dealer and Manufacturer Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 253-268, Summer.
    8. Kaiser, Ulrich & Song, Minjae, 2009. "Do media consumers really dislike advertising? An empirical assessment of the role of advertising in print media markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 292-301, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2014. "Price Discrimination in Input Markets: Quantity Discounts and Private Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(577), pages 776-804, June.
    2. D’Haultfoeuille, Xavier & Durrmeyer, Isis & Février, Philippe, 2014. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium with Unobserved Price Discrimination," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 477, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    3. Li, Jia & Moul, Charles C., 2015. "Who should handle retail? Vertical contracts, customer service, and social welfare in a Chinese mobile phone market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 29-43.
    4. PEETERS, Thomas & SZYMANSKI, Stefan, 2012. "Vertical restraints in soccer: Financial fair play and the English Premier League," Working Papers 2012028, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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