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Durable Goods and Product Obsolescence

  • Daniel A. Levinthal

    (Carnegie-Mellon University)

  • Devavrat Purohit

    (Carnegie-Mellon University)

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    The issue of product obsolescence is addressed by examining the optimal sales strategy of a monopolist firm that may introduce an improved version of its current product. Consumers' expectations of a forthcoming product lowers the price that they are willing to pay for the current product because of its loss in value due to obsolescence. The new product is characterized by consumers' increased willingness to pay and by its competitive interaction with the old product. These characteristics affect the tradeoff that the firm makes between the cost of waiting for new product sales versus the cost of cannibalizing these sales. We analyze the effect of these characteristics of the new product on the firm's optimal sales strategy. We consider the various policy measures available to the firm, including limiting initial sales in order to lower cannibalization of the new product, buying back the earlier version of the product in order to generate greater demand for the new product, and announcements of future product introductions. We find that, for modest levels of product improvement, the firm's optimal policy is to phase out sales of the old product, while for large improvements a buy-back policy is more profitable. Lastly we find that the firm is better off if it informs consumers whether a new product is forthcoming.

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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

    Volume (Year): 8 (1989)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 35-56

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:8:y:1989:i:1:p:35-56
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