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Fixed vs. Flexible Pricing in a Competitive Market

Cemil Selcuk and Bilal Gokpinar ()
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Bilal Gokpinar: UCL School of Management

No E2017/9, Cardiff Economics Working Papers from Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section

Abstract: We study the selection and dynamics of two popular pricing policies fixed price and flexible pricing in competitive markets. Our paper extends previous work in marketing, e.g. Desai and Purohit (2004) by focusing on decentralized markets with a dynamic and fully competitive framework while also considering possible non-economic aspects of bargaining. We construct and analyze a competitive search model which allows us to endogenize the expected demand depending on pricing rules and posted prices. Our analysis reveals that fixed price and flexible pricing policies generally coexist in the same marketplace, and each policy comes with its own list price and customer demographics. More specifically, if customers dislike haggling, then fixed pricing emerges as the unique equilibrium, but if customers get some additional satisfaction from the bargaining process, then both policies are offered, and the unique equilibrium exhibits full segmentation: Haggler customers avoid fixed-price firms and exclusively shop at flexible firms whereas non-haggler customers do the opposite. We also find that prices increase in customer satisfaction, implying that sellers take advantage of the positive utility enjoyed by hagglers in the form of higher prices. Finally, considering the presence of seasonal cycles in most markets, we analyze a scenario where market demand goes through periodic ups and downs and find that equilibrium prices remain mostly stable despite significant áuctuations in demand. This finding suggests a plausible competition-based explanation for the stability of prices.

Keywords: pricing policy; negotiation; competition; competitive search (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-com, nep-mac and nep-mkt
Date: 2017-08
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