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The Optimal Marketing Mix of Posted Prices, Discounts and Bargaining

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  • John Thanassoulis
  • David Gill

Abstract

In many markets firms set posted prices which are potentially negotiable. We analyze the optimal marketing mix of pricing and bargaining when price takers buy at posted prices but bargainers attempt to negotiate discounts. The optimal bargaining strategy involves the firms offering bargainers randomly-sized discounts. Competing firms keep posted prices high to weaken the bargainers' outside option, thus forgoing the chance to increase profits from price takers by undercutting their rival. A range of posted price equilibria are possible, and the higher price in the range inrceases when the proportion of bargainers goes up or the bargainers become less skilled. We consider how firms and competition authorities might encourage more consumers to bargain and determine the conditions under which each would choose to do so. Finally, we study the firms' strategic decision about how much bargaining discretion sales staff should be allowed. Both firms allowing full bargaining flexibility is always an equilibrium - but not always the most profitable one. If there are enough bargainers, both firms committing to only matching the rival's posted price is also an equilibrium: price matching moderates competition, thus raising profits.

Suggested Citation

  • John Thanassoulis & David Gill, 2010. "The Optimal Marketing Mix of Posted Prices, Discounts and Bargaining," Economics Series Working Papers 479, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:479
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper479.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhiqi Chen, 1995. "How Low Is a Guaranteed-Lowest-Price?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 683-701, August.
    2. Wang, Ruqu, 1995. "Bargaining versus posted-price selling," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1747-1764, December.
    3. Arnold, Michael A & Lippman, Steven A, 1998. "Posted Prices versus Bargaining in Markets with Asymmetric Information," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 450-457, July.
    4. Gabriele Camera & Cemil Selcuk, 2009. "Price Dispersion with Directed Search," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1193-1224, December.
    5. Gill, David & Thanassoulis, John, 2009. "The impact of bargaining on markets with price takers: Too many bargainers spoil the broth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(6), pages 658-674, August.
    6. Cason, Timothy N. & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett H., 2003. "Bargaining versus posted price competition in customer markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 223-251, February.
    7. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dmitry Lubensky, 2011. "A Model of Recommended Retail Prices," Working Papers 2011-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    2. Selcuk, Cemil, 2012. "Seasonal cycles in the housing market," MPRA Paper 36225, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Posted prices; List prices; Bargaining; Negotiation; Haggling; Discounts; Outside option; Price takers; Competition policy; Price matching;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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