IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal Pricing of Seasonal Products in the Presence of Forward-Looking Consumers


  • Yossi Aviv

    () (Olin School of Business, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130)

  • Amit Pazgal

    () (Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77252)


We study the optimal pricing of a finite quantity of a fashion-like seasonal good in the presence of forward-looking (strategic) customers. We distinguish between two classes of pricing strategies: contingent and announced fixed-discount. In both cases, the seller acts as a Stackelberg leader announcing his pricing strategy, while consumers act as followers taking the seller's strategy as given and determining their purchasing behavior. In each case, we identify a subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium and show that given the seller's strategy, the equilibrium in the consumer subgame is unique and consists of symmetric threshold purchasing policies. For both cases, we develop a benchmark model in which customers are nonstrategic (myopic). We conduct a comprehensive numerical study to explore the impact of strategic consumer behavior on pricing policies and expected revenue performance. We show that strategic customer behavior suppresses the benefits of price segmentation, particularly under medium-to-high values of heterogeneity and modest rates of decline in valuations. However, when the level of consumer heterogeneity is small, the rate of decline is medium-to-high, and the seller can optimally choose the time of discount in advance, segmentation can be used quite effectively even with strategic consumers. We find that the seller cannot avoid the adverse impact of strategic consumer behavior even under low levels of initial inventory. We argue that while the seller expects customers to be more concerned about product availability at discount time, he cannot use high-price "betting" strategies as he would in the case of low inventory and myopic customers. Under certain qualifications, announced fixed-discount strategies perform essentially the same as contingent pricing policies in the case of myopic consumers. However, under strategic consumer behavior, announced pricing policies can be advantageous to the seller, compared to contingent pricing schemes. Interestingly, those cases that announced discount strategies offer a significant advantage compared to contingent pricing policies. They appear to offer only a minimal advantage in comparison to fixed-pricing policies. Finally, when the seller incorrectly assumes that strategic customers are myopic in their purchasing decisions, it can be quite costly, reaching potential revenue losses of about 20%.

Suggested Citation

  • Yossi Aviv & Amit Pazgal, 2008. "Optimal Pricing of Seasonal Products in the Presence of Forward-Looking Consumers," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 10(3), pages 339-359, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormsom:v:10:y:2008:i:3:p:339-359

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Qian Liu & Garrett J. van Ryzin, 2008. "Strategic Capacity Rationing to Induce Early Purchases," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(6), pages 1115-1131, June.
    2. Guillermo Gallego & Garrett van Ryzin, 1994. "Optimal Dynamic Pricing of Inventories with Stochastic Demand over Finite Horizons," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(8), pages 999-1020, August.
    3. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U. S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-824.
    4. Gabriel R. Bitran & Susana V. Mondschein, 1997. "Periodic Pricing of Seasonal Products in Retailing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(1), pages 64-79, January.
    5. Gabriel Bitran & René Caldentey, 2003. "An Overview of Pricing Models for Revenue Management," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 5(3), pages 203-229, August.
    6. Michael Landsberger & Isaac Meilijson, 1985. "Intertemporal Price Discrimination and Sales Strategy under Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(3), pages 424-430, Autumn.
    7. David Besanko & Wayne L. Winston, 1990. "Optimal Price Skimming by a Monopolist Facing Rational Consumers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(5), pages 555-567, May.
    8. Yossi Aviv & Amit Pazgal, 2005. "A Partially Observed Markov Decision Process for Dynamic Pricing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(9), pages 1400-1416, September.
    9. Youyi Feng & Guillermo Gallego, 2000. "Perishable Asset Revenue Management with Markovian Time Dependent Demand Intensities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(7), pages 941-956, July.
    10. Nancy L. Stokey, 1979. "Intertemporal Price Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 355-371.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormsom:v:10:y:2008:i:3:p:339-359. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.