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Retail Competition and the Dynamics of Consumer Demand for Tied Goods

  • Hartmann, Wesley R.

    (Stanford U)

  • Nair, Harikesh S.

We empirically investigate the demand for tied goods sold through competing retail channels. Tied good pricing strategies commonly involve a low price on the initial purchase (i.e. the primary good) to drive adoption, and a substantial markup on aftermarket goods to capture value. However, if the goods are sold through downstream channels, retail market power and a misalignment of incentives could distort the relative prices of primary and aftermarket goods. To evaluate whether retail competition is strong enough to prevent such distortions, we explore the commonly noted example of razors and blades, which are sold through drug, grocery, mass merchandising, and club stores. We specify a forward-looking demand model that incorporates dynamics arising from the tied good nature of the products and the stockpiling and durability aspects of razors and blades. Furthermore, we allow intertemporal substitution in the purchase of both razors and blades to occur across channels as well as time. This modeling feature enables a novel approach to measuring retail competition in single category demand analyses. Our estimates indicate that there is substantial cross-channel substitution in razors, but some retail market power in blades. However, the channel with the most market power in blades, club stores, specializes in high volume customers that would adopt a razor even if blade prices are higher. This suggests that the manufacturer can achieve its desired level of razor adoption without vertical restraints, though blade sales may be slightly reduced by double marginalization.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 1990.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1990
Contact details of provider: Postal: Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015
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  1. Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "Vertical Restraints as Contract Enforcement Mechanisms," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 265-97, October.
  2. Rust, John, 1996. "Numerical dynamic programming in economics," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: H. M. Amman & D. A. Kendrick & J. Rust (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 619-729 Elsevier.
  3. Schmalensee, Richard., 1980. "Monopolistic two-part pricing arrangements," Working papers 1105-80., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Nair, Harikesh S. & Chintagunta, Pradeep & Dube, Jean-Pierre, 2003. "Empirical Analysis of Indirect Network Effects in the Market for Personal Digital Assistants," Research Papers 1948, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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  8. Daniel Ackerberg, 2009. "A new use of importance sampling to reduce computational burden in simulation estimation," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 343-376, December.
  9. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 1998. "Product Line Design for a Distribution Channel," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 156-169.
  10. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
  11. Hans M. Amman & David A. Kendrick, . "Computational Economics," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number comp1.
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