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Compete in Price or Service?—A Study of Personalized Pricing and Money Back Guarantees

Bintong Chen and Jing Chen

Journal of Retailing, 2017, vol. 93, issue 2, 154-171

Abstract: Retailers use both pricing and service strategies to respond to intensified competition. Here we develop a duopoly model to investigate the impact of the increasingly popular personalized pricing strategy (PPS) and the widely used Money Back Guarantee (MBG) customer returns policy. We consider two retailers who differ in customer satisfaction rates. Each retailer chooses a pricing strategy, PPS or uniform pricing, and a product return strategy, MBG or ‘no returns.’ We show that both PPS and MBG are dominant strategies, but their impact on retailers’ prices and profits are different; while PPS intensifies price competition and may lead to a prisoner’s dilemma in which both retailers may lose profit, MBG mitigates price competition and may result in a Pareto improvement in both retailers’ profits. Both PPS and MBG increase the size of the overall market, but not the total duopoly profit. The total customer surplus and social welfare may increase under either strategy. In addition, we obtain some interesting observations as to how our results may change if the product quality/customer satisfaction rate is endogenously chosen in the duopoly. Some of our findings are in contrast to related results reported in the literature.

Keywords: Customer returns; Pricing; Game theory; Duopoly (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jouret:v:93:y:2017:i:2:p:154-171