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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
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1990
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  1. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 1998. "Product Line Design for a Distribution Channel," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 156-169.
  2. Harikesh Nair & Pradeep Chintagunta & Jean-Pierre Dubé, 2004. "Empirical Analysis of Indirect Network Effects in the Market for Personal Digital Assistants," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 23-58, 03.
  3. 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.
  4. Schmalensee, Richard., 1980. "Monopolistic two-part pricing arrangements," Working papers 1105-80., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  5. Erdem, Tulin & Imai, Susumu & Keane, Michael, 2003. "Brand and Quantity Choice Dynamics Under Price Uncertainty," MPRA Paper 52516, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  7. 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.
  8. Severin Borenstein & Jeffrey MacKie-Mason & Janet Netz, 1996. "Exercising Market Power in Proprietary Aftermarkets," Working Papers _002, University of California at Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
  9. Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2001. "A New Use of Importance Sampling to Reduce Computational Burden in Simulation Estimation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hans M. Amman & David A. Kendrick, . "Computational Economics," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number comp1, December.
  11. 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.
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