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Exploding Offers and Buy-Now Discounts

  • Mark Armstrong
  • Jidong Zhou

We consider a market with sequential consumer search in which firms can distinguish potential customers visiting for the first time from returning visitors. We show that firms often have an incentive to make it costly for its visitors to return after investigating rivals, either by making an "exploding offer" (which permits no return once the consumer leaves) or by offering a "buy-now discount" (which makes the price paid by first-time visitors lower than that for returning visitors). Prices often increase when return costs are artificially increased in this manner, and this harms consumers and market performance. If firms cannot commit to their buy-later price the outcome depends on whether there is an intrinsic cost of returning to a firm: if the intrinsic return cost is zero, it is often an equilibrium for firms not to offer any buy-now discount; if the return cost is positive, firms are forced to make exploding offers.

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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 11-18.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:11-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/

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  7. Renault, Régis & Anderson, Simon P., 2009. "Comparative advertising: disclosing horizontal match information," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/12478, Paris Dauphine University.
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  19. Lippman, Steven A & McCall, John J, 1976. "The Economics of Job Search: A Survey," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(3), pages 347-68, September.
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