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Discount Pricing

  • Mark Armstrong
  • Yongmin Chen

This paper investigates discount pricing, the common marketing practice whereby a price is listed as a discount from an earlier, or regular, price. We discuss two reasons why a discounted price - as opposed to a mearly low price - can make a rational consumer more willing to purchase the item. First, the information that the product was initially sold at a high price can indicate the product is high quality. Second, a discounted price can signal that the product is an unusual bargain, and there is little point searching for lower prices. We also discuss a behavioral model in which consumers have an intrinsic preference for paying a below-average price.Here, a seller has an incentive to offer different prices to identical consumers, so that a proportion of its consumers enjoy a bargain. We discuss in each framework when a seller has an incentive to offer false discounts, in which the reference price is exaggerated.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 605.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:605
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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1984. "Retail Pricing and Clearance Sales," NBER Working Papers 1446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nicola Gennaioli & Alberto Martin & Stefano Rossi, 2014. "Sovereign Default, Domestic Banks, and Financial Institutions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 69(2), pages 819-866, 04.
  3. Zhou, Jidong, 2008. "Reference Dependence and Market Competition," MPRA Paper 9370, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Salience and Consumer Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 803 - 843.
  5. Huanxing Yang & Lixin Ye, 2008. "Search with learning: understanding asymmetric price adjustments," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 547-564.
  6. Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
  7. Paul H. Rubin, 2012. "Regulation of Information and Advertising," Chapters, in: Regulation and Economics, chapter 3 Edward Elgar.
  8. Kyle Bagwell & Michael Riordan, 1988. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," Discussion Papers 808, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Heidhues, Paul & Köszegi, Botond, 2005. "The Impact of Consumer Loss Aversion on Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4849, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Spiegler, Ran, 2011. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195398717, July.
  11. Taylor, Curtis R, 1999. "Time-on-the-Market as a Sign of Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 555-78, July.
  12. Clemens Puppe & Stephanie Rosenkranz, 2011. "Why Suggest Non‐Binding Retail Prices?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(310), pages 317-329, 04.
  13. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  14. Urbany, Joel E & Bearden, William O & Weilbaker, Dan C, 1988. " The Effect of Plausible and Exaggerated Reference Prices on Consumer Perceptions and Price Search," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 95-110, June.
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