Increasing sales by introducing non-salable items
Rationality implies that adding 'irrelevant' and, in particular, inferior alternatives to the opportunity set cannot increase the choice probability of some other alternative. In this study, we propose a novel approach that can rationalize an intended addition of such alternatives because it strictly increases the choice probability of some existing alternative. The driving force behind the existence and extent of such an increase is the random nature of individual preferences, that implies intransitivity, and the random nature of the applied choice procedures. We study the case of a firm interested in increasing the sales of some of its existing products by introducing a new and inferior (non-salable) product. Our main results focus on the feasibility and potential advantage of a successful such strategy. We first establish necessary and sufficient conditions for an increase in the sale probability and then derive the maximal possible absolute and relative increase in this probability, when the firm has extremely limited information on the characteristics of the consumers. We then derive analogous results, assuming that the existing line of products consists of just two items and that the firm has accurate information on the consumers' stochastic preferences over the existing products. These later results are illustrated using some experimental evidence. The applicability of the approach is finally briefly discussed in the context of branding policy. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume (Year): 27 (2006)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
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