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Are loyalty-rewarding pricing schemes anti-competitive?

  • Ramón Caminal
  • Adina Claici

Many economists and policy analysts seem to believe that loyaltyrewarding pricing schemes, like frequent flyer programs, tend to reinforce firm's market power and hence are detrimental to consumer welfare. The existing academic literature has supported this view to some extent. In contrast, we argue that these programs are business stealing devices that enhance competition, in the sense of generating lower average transaction prices and higher consumer surplus. This result is robust to alternative specifications of the firms' commitment power and demand structures, and is derived in a theoretical model whose main predictions are compatible with the sparse empirical evidence.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 228.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:228
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  1. Yongmin Chen & Michael H. Riordan, 2003. "Vertical Integration, Exclusive Dealing, and Ex Post Cartelization," Discussion Papers 0203-13, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Beggs, Alan W & Klemperer, Paul, 1992. "Multi-period Competition with Switching Costs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(3), pages 651-66, May.
  3. Caminal, Ramon & Claici, Adina, 2005. "Are loyalty-rewarding pricing schemes anti-competitive?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5353, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 2000. "Customer Poaching and Brand Switching," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 634-657, Winter.
  5. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2006. "Dynamic Competition with Experience Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 37-66, 03.
  6. Byung-Do Kim & Mengze Shi & Kannan Srinivasan, 2001. "Reward Programs and Tacit Collusion," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(2), pages 99-120, June.
  7. Joshua S. Gans & Stephen P. King, 2006. "PAYING FOR LOYALTY: PRODUCT BUNDLING IN OLIGOPOLY -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 43-62, 03.
  8. Robert D. Cairns & John W. Galbraith, 1990. "Artificial Compatibility, Barriers to Entry, and Frequent-Flyer Programs," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(4), pages 807-16, November.
  9. Bulkley, George, 1992. "The role of loyalty discounts when consumers are uncertain of the value of repeat purchases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 91-101, March.
  10. Klemperer, Paul, 1995. "Competition When Consumers Have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 515-39, October.
  11. To, Theodore, 1996. "Multi-period Competition with Switching Costs: An Overlapping Generations Formulation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 81-87, March.
  12. Caminal, Ramon & Matutes, Carmen, 1990. "Endogenous switching costs in a duopoly model," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 353-373, September.
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