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Probabilistic Goods: A Creative Way of Selling Products and Services

  • Scott Fay

    ()

    (Department of Marketing, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611)

  • Jinhong Xie

    ()

    (Department of Marketing, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611)

Registered author(s):

    This paper defines a unique type of product or service offering, termed , and analyzes a novel selling strategy, termed (PS). A probabilistic good is not a concrete product or service but an offer involving a probability of getting any one of a set of multiple distinct items. Under the probabilistic selling strategy, a multi-item seller creates probabilistic goods using the existing distinct products or services and offers such probabilistic goods as additional purchase choices. The probabilistic selling strategy allows sellers to benefit from introducing a new type of buyer uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty in product assignments. First, introducing such uncertainty enables sellers to create a “virtual” product or service (i.e., probabilistic good), which opens up a creative way to segment a market. We find that the probabilistic selling strategy is a general marketing tool that has the potential to benefit sellers in many different industries. Second, this paper shows that creating buyer uncertainty in product assignments is a new way for sellers to deal with their own market uncertainty. We illustrate two such benefits: (a) offering probabilistic goods can reduce the seller's information disadvantage and lessen the negative effect of demand uncertainty on profit, and (b) offering probabilistic goods can solve the mismatch between capacity and demand and enhance efficiency. Emerging technology is creating exciting (previously unfeasible) opportunities to implement PS and to obtain these many advantages.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1070.0318
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

    Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4 (07-08)
    Pages: 674-690

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:27:y:2008:i:4:p:674-690
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    1. Scott Fay, 2004. "Partial-Repeat-Bidding in the Name-Your-Own-Price Channel," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(3), pages 407-418, February.
    2. R. Venkatesh & Wagner Kamakura, 2003. "Optimal Bundling and Pricing under a Monopoly: Contrasting Complements and Substitutes from Independently Valued Products," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76(2), pages 211-232, April.
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    8. Eyal Biyalogorsky & Eitan Gerstner, 2004. "Contingent Pricing to Reduce Price Risks," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(1), pages 146-155, March.
    9. Min Ding & Jehoshua Eliashberg & Joel Huber & Ritesh Saini, 2005. "Emotional Bidders---An Analytical and Experimental Examination of Consumers' Behavior in a Priceline-Like Reverse Auction," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(3), pages 352-364, March.
    10. Jinhong Xie & Eitan Gerstner, 2007. "Service Escape: Profiting from Customer Cancellations," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 18-30, 01-02.
    11. Rajiv Dewan & Bing Jing & Abraham Seidmann, 2003. "Product Customization and Price Competition on the Internet," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(8), pages 1055-1070, August.
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    13. Jinhong Xie & Steven M. Shugan, 2001. "Electronic Tickets, Smart Cards, and Online Prepayments: When and How to Advance Sell," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(3), pages 219-243, June.
    14. Yubo Chen & Jinhong Xie, 2008. "Online Consumer Review: Word-of-Mouth as a New Element of Marketing Communication Mix," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(3), pages 477-491, March.
    15. Liang Guo, 2006. "Consumption Flexibility, Product Configuration, and Market Competition," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(2), pages 116-130, 03-04.
    16. Roland T. Rust & Tuck Siong Chung, 2006. "Marketing Models of Service and Relationships," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(6), pages 560-580, 11-12.
    17. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
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