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Strategic Assortment Reduction by a Dominant Retailer

  • Anthony J. Dukes


    (Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089)

  • Tansev Geylani


    (Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260)

  • Kannan Srinivasan


    (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)

In certain product categories, large discount retailers are known to offer shallower assortments than traditional retailers. In this paper, we investigate the competitive incentives for such assortment decisions and the implications for manufacturers' distribution strategies. Our results show that if one retailer has the channel power to determine its assortment first, then it can strategically reduce its assortment by carrying only the popular variety while simultaneously inducing the rival retailer to carry both the specialty and popular varieties. The rival retailer then bears higher assortment costs, which leads to relaxed price competition for the commonly carried popular variety. We also show that when the manufacturer has relative channel power, it chooses alternatively to distribute both product varieties through both retailers. Our analysis suggests, therefore, that when a retailer becomes dominant in the distribution channel, it facilitates retail segmentation into discount shops, carrying limited product lines, and specialty shops carrying wider assortments. We also illustrate how retailer power leading to strategic assortment reduction can lead to lower consumer surplus.

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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

Volume (Year): 28 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (03-04)
Pages: 309-319

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:309-319
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  1. Lan Luo & P. K. Kannan & Brian T. Ratchford, 2007. "New Product Development Under Channel Acceptance," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(2), pages 149-163, 03-04.
  2. Sharad Borle & Peter Boatwright & Joseph B. Kadane & Joseph C. Nunes & Shmueli Galit, 2005. "The Effect of Product Assortment Changes on Customer Retention," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(4), pages 616-622, July.
  3. Paul R. Messinger & Chakravarthi Narasimhan, 1997. "A Model of Retail Formats Based on Consumers' Economizing on Shopping Time," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(1), pages 1-23.
  4. Trichy Krishan & Kitty Koelemeijer & Ram Rao, 2002. "Consistent Assortment Provision and Service Provision in a Retail Environment," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(1), pages 54-73, April.
  5. Jagmohan Raju & Z. John Zhang, 2005. "Channel Coordination in the Presence of a Dominant Retailer," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(2), pages 254-262, February.
  6. Munson, Charles L. & Rosenblatt, Meir J. & Rosenblatt, Zehava, 1999. "The use and abuse of power in supply chains," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 55-65.
  7. Tansev Geylani & Anthony J. Dukes & Kannan Srinivasan, 2007. "Strategic Manufacturer Response to a Dominant Retailer," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(2), pages 164-178, 03-04.
  8. Vrinda Kadiyali & Pradeep Chintagunta & Naufel Vilcassim, 2000. "Manufacturer-Retailer Channel Interactions and Implications for Channel Power: An Empirical Investigation of Pricing in a Local Market," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(2), pages 127-148, September.
  9. Inderst, Roman & Shaffer, Greg, 2004. "Retail Mergers: Buyer Power and Product Variety," CEPR Discussion Papers 4236, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. John T. Gourville & Dilip Soman, 2005. "Overchoice and Assortment Type: When and Why Variety Backfires," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(3), pages 382-395, July.
  11. Nanda Kumar & Ram Rao, 2006. "Research Note—Using Basket Composition Data for Intelligent Supermarket Pricing," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(2), pages 188-199, 03-04.
  12. Gérard P. Cachon & A. Gürhan Kök, 2007. "Category Management and Coordination in Retail Assortment Planning in the Presence of Basket Shopping Consumers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 934-951, June.
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