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Robust exclusion and market division through loyalty discounts

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  • Elhauge, Einer
  • Wickelgren, Abraham L.

Abstract

We show that loyalty discounts create an externality among buyers because each buyer who signs a loyalty discount contract softens competition and raises prices for all buyers. This externality can enable an incumbent to use loyalty discounts to effectively divide the market with its rival and raise prices. If loyalty discounts also include a buyer commitment to buy from the incumbent, then loyalty discounts can also deter entry under conditions in which ordinary exclusive dealing cannot. With or without buyer commitment, loyalty discounts will increase profits while reducing consumer welfare and total welfare as long as enough buyers exist and the entrant does not have too large a cost advantage. These propositions are true even if the entrant is more efficient and the loyalty discounts are above cost and cover less than half the market. We also prove that these propositions hold without assuming economies of scale, downstream competition, buyer switching costs, financial constraints, limits on rival expandability, or any intra-product bundle of contestable and incontestable demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Elhauge, Einer & Wickelgren, Abraham L., 2015. "Robust exclusion and market division through loyalty discounts," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 111-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:43:y:2015:i:c:p:111-121
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2015.09.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Bogdan Genchev & Julie Holland Mortimer, 2016. "Empirical Evidence on Conditional Pricing Practices," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 908, Boston College Department of Economics.
    2. Calzolari, Giacomo & Denicolò, Vincenzo, 2020. "Loyalty discounts and price-cost tests," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    3. Lisa Bruttel, 2019. "Is There a Loyalty-Enhancing Effect of Retroactive Price-Reduction Schemes?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 54(3), pages 575-593, May.
    4. Özlem Bedre-Defolie & Gary Biglaiser, 2017. "Contracts as a Barrier to Entry in Markets with Nonpivotal Buyers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 2041-2071, July.
    5. Hiroshi Kitamura & Akira Miyaoka & Misato Sato, 2016. "Relationship-specific investment as a barrier to entry," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 17-45, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Loyalty discount; Exclusion; Market division;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts

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