Three essays on pricing strategies




Liu, Fan, Ph. D.

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Pricing is one of the most vital topic within the theory of Microeconomics. A firm can use a variety of pricing strategies to maximize its profit, gain market share, enter a new market or prevent potential entrants. This dissertation contains three essays exploring the equilibrium effect of various pricing strategies. The first chapter, co-authored with David S. Sibley and Wei Zhao, examines the effects of two types of vertical restrictions that are found in the cigarette and soft drink industries. In one case, a manufacturer gives discounts to the retailer in return for a commitment that the manufacturers product be priced no higher than a specified competing product. We refer to this as a vertical MFN (VMFN). The second is an agreement where the retailer commits to price in such a way that its margin on the product is no higher than the equivalent margin on a specified competing product. We refer to this as a vertical margin constraint (VMC). We show that the VMFN results in equilibrium prices that are higher than in a benchmark case without the constraint. In contrast, the VMC constraint leads to uniformly lower prices. The distributional effects are different, too. The VMFN tends to raise manufacturer profits, if different manufacturers produce very similar products. The retailer is worse off. The opposite effects arise in the VMC case. The second chapter analyzes firms giving switching discounts to consumers who purchased from their rivals rather than own past customers. By analyzing a two-period duopoly model with horizontal differentiation, we find that when the intrinsic value of the product is not high enough to make sure that the consumers will buy at least one of the product, the dynamic price path featured in the previous literature involving a raised second period price for customers with relatively high valuation will be reversed. Moreover, offering switching discounts results in a profit lower than the benchmark case, where such a pricing strategy is unavailable. The third chapter discusses how bundled discounts affect firm's decision of extending the product line by versioning the product through horizontal differentiation or vertical quality degrading. We propose a framework showing that inter-firm mixed bundling schemes may incentivize the introduction of a differentiated product, while in the absence of bundling it may not be profitable to do so. However, the consumer's surplus gain as a result of intensified competition and increased variety of goods from versioning will be dominated by the negative welfare impacts of bundling.



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