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Explicit Evidence on an Implicit Contract

Author

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  • Andrew Young

    (University of Mississippi)

  • Daniel Levy

    (Bar- Ilan University)

Abstract

We offer the first direct evidence of an implicit contract in a goods market. The evidence we offer comes from the market for Coca-Cola. We demonstrate that the Coca-Cola Company left a substantial amount of written evidence of its implicit contract with its consumers—a very explicit form of an implicit contract. In general, observing implicit contracts directly is difficult because of their implicit nature. In the case of Coca-Cola, however, we are able to document the Company not only saying that it had an important implicit contract with its consumers, but also acting on it. This study makes an additional and unique contribution by exploring quality as a margin of adjustment available to Coca-Cola. We present evidence that the implicit contract included a promise not only of a constant nominal price but also a constant quality. We document the dedication to a 6.5oz serving of the "Secret Formula." Indeed, during a period of over 70 years, we find evidence of only a single case of true quality change. By studying the margin of adjustment the Coca-Cola Company chose in response to changes in market conditions, we demonstrate that the perceived costs of breaking the implicit contract were large. In addition, we are able to offer one piece of direct evidence on the magnitude of these costs by studying the events surrounding the failed introduction of the New Coke in 1985.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Young & Daniel Levy, 2005. "Explicit Evidence on an Implicit Contract," Macroeconomics 0506008, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Jan 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0506008
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    Cited by:

    1. Snir, Avichai & Levy, Daniel, 2021. "If You Think 9-Ending Prices Are Low, Think Again," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    2. Daniel Levy, 2007. "Price rigidity and flexibility: recent theoretical developments," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 523-530.
    3. M. Dossche, 2009. "Understanding Inflation Dynamics.Where Do We Stand?," Review of Business and Economic Literature, Intersentia, vol. 54(2), pages 209-228, June.
    4. Levy, Daniel & Young, Andrew, 2019. "Promise, Trust and Betrayal: Costs of Breaching an Implicit Contract," MPRA Paper 94148, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Müller, Georg & Bergen, Mark & Dutta, Shantanu & Levy, Daniel, 2007. "Holiday Non-Price Rigidity and Cost of Adjustment," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 817-832.
    6. Georg Müller & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Daniel Levy, 2007. "Non-price rigidity and cost of adjustment," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 817-832.
    7. Levy, Daniel, 2007. "Price Rigidity and Flexibility: Recent Theoretical Developments - Introduction to the Special Issue," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 523-530.
    8. Levy, Daniel & Snir, Avichai, 2017. "Potterian Economics," MPRA Paper 76344, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Alexander L. Wolman, 2007. "The frequency and costs of individual price adjustment," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 531-552.
    10. Levy, Daniel, 2007. "Price Rigidity and Flexibility: New Empirical Evidence - Introduction to the Special Issue," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 639-647.
    11. Daniel Levy, 2007. "Price rigidity and flexibility: new empirical evidence," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 639-647.
    12. Georg Muller & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Daniel Levy, 2006. "Holiday Non-Price Rigidity and Cost of Adjustment," Working Papers 2006-4, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    13. Söderberg, Johan, 2011. "Customer markets and the welfare effects of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 206-219.
    14. Andrew T. Young & Alexander K. Blue, 2007. "Retail prices during a change in monetary regimes: evidence from Sears, Roebuck catalogs, 1938-1951," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 763-775.
    15. Daniel Levy, 2007. "Price rigidity and flexibility: recent theoretical developments," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 523-530.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Implicit Contract; Explicit Contract; Invisible Handshake; Customer Market; Long-Term Relationship; Price Rigidity; Coca-Cola; Nickel Coke;

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian; Modern Monetary Theory
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco
    • M30 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - General
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics

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