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Price Discrimination Based on Self- Selection Often firms cannot distinguish between groups of consumers based on observable characteristics Offer a menu of alternatives to let customers self-select If properly designed, customers with different willingness to pay will choose different alternatives Examples: supermarket discounts for shoppers who clip coupons, wireless phone companies with multiple calling plans Price Discrimination may still be possible
Second-degree price discrimination principles Induce customers to select into high and low price groups themselves. Key constraint: you can’t make the inexpensive version too attractive to those willing to pay more. If there aren’t many customers in the low-valuation group, you may want to ignore this group, since selling to it forces you to lower the price to the high valuation group.
More types of second degree price discrimination ExampleSelf Selection Intertemporal High Valuation users are less patient Quantity Discounts Example: cell phone plans with monthly and per minute fees – Separate between high and low volume users Multiple two-part tariff High valuation consumers pay high price for higher volume
Intertemporal pricing People value things differently depending on the point in time they will receive it Value now > Value later (Discounting) eReader and Tablet companies exploit this discrepancy by marking up their product upon introduction Capture the consumer surplus of early-adopters They later lower their prices to reflect the reduction in value that occurs when the product leaves the initial market entry stage and more consumers begin to enter the market
2nd Degree Price Discrimination Price Dispersion Variation in prices for the same item Versioning Variations of a product or service at different prices to different groups of customers First Class vs. Coach seating
Price Dispersion The expected difference in fares paid is 36% Airlines likely to have 20 or more different fares on one given flight
Ski Pass Differentiation Type of ski pass Full day pass Half day pass Night pass Length of ski time One day pass Weekend pass Week pass Season pass
Ski Lift Ticket Prices: Bristol Mountain Price (in dollars) All Day and Night (Opening- 10pm) 57 8-hours (starting anytime)54 4-hours (starting anytime)51 Twilight (4pm-10pm)36 Evening (7pm-10pm)30 Adult Prices
Variations in Ski Pass Options As the number of days purchased at one time increases, the price per day of the ticket decreases Resorts do this to encourage customers to buy more days worth of tickets
Second-degree price discrimination principles Induce customers to select into high and low price groups themselves. Key constraint: you cannot make the inexpensive version too attractive to those willing to pay more.
Coupons Grocery Trends (2009) Coupons Distributed +12% Coupons Redeemed+19% Internet Coupons+83% 75% of coupon users say coupon had at least some influence on their decision to purchase a new product
Coupons A form of second-degree price discrimination Enables retailers to attract informed customers by discounting
Coupons and Income Trends relating to newspaper readership provide some explanation for this imbalance. According to Scarborough Research, better educated and higher income households buy and read the newspaper more than others and newspapers remain a key vehicle for delivering coupons. Additionally, promotions are generally targeted in areas with more affluent consumers. In essence, the better educated and more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals as they recognize the value of money.
More types of second degree price discrimination Multiple two-part tariffs Examples of two-part tariffs: cell phone plans with monthly and per minute fees. Idea: separate between low volume users and high volume users. A two-part tariff is a lump-sum fee, p 1, plus a price p 2 for each unit of product purchased. Thus the cost of buying x units of product is p 1 + p 2 x. Q: What is the largest that p 1 can be?
Two-Part Tariffs p 1 + p 2 x Q: What is the largest that p 1 can be? A: p 1 is the “entrance fee” so the largest it can be is the surplus the buyer gains from entering the market. Set p 1 = CS and now ask what should be p 2 ? The monopolist maximizes its profit when using a two-part tariff by setting its per unit price p 2 at marginal cost and setting its lump- sum fee p 1 equal to Consumers’ Surplus.
Profit with a Two-Part Tariff Per-unit charge equals marginal cost Fixed fee is the consumer ’ s surplus at that per-unit price Maximizes aggregate surplus Leaves the consumer no surplus 18-31
Two-part pricing Jazz club serves two types of customer Old: demand for entry plus Qo drinks is P = Vo – Qo Young: demand for entry plus Qy drinks is P = Vy – Qy Equal numbers of each type Assume that Vo > Vy: Old are willing to pay more than Young Cost of operating the jazz club C(Q) = F + cQ
Two-Part Pricing $ Quantity ViVi ViVi MR MC c Set the unit price equal to marginal cost This gives consumer surplus of (V i - c) 2 /2 The entry charge converts consumer surplus into profit V i - c Set the entry charge to (V i - c) 2 /2 Profit from each pair of Old and Young is now d = [(V o – c) 2 + (V y – c) 2 ]/2
Clearvoice Wireless Example Clearvoice is a wireless telephone monopolist in a rural area Two types of consumers: high-demand and low-demand Distinct monthly demand curves for wireless minutes for each group
Fixed fee : $40.50 = (90*.9)/2 Clearvoice Wireless Example Fixed fee: $8 =(40*.4)/2 Low DemandHigh Demand If we could observe consumer characteristics, we would offer two-part tariff with 10-cent per-minute price
Profit-Maximizing Two-Part Tariff Per-minute price of 10 cents and monthly fee of $40.50 High-demand customers … Low-demand customers … Per-minute price of 10 cents and monthly fee of $8 High-demand customers … Low-demand customers … Q: Which plan is better? A: High Demand Low Demand Suppose Clearvoice wants to offer a single two-part tariff Question
Profit-Maximizing Two-Part Tariff Per-minute price of 10 cents and monthly fee of $40.50 High-demand customers accept Low-demand customers reject Per-minute price of 10 cents and monthly fee of $8 All consumers accept Q: Which plan is better? A: If there are a large number of low-demand customers, $8 monthly fee is better High Demand Low Demand Suppose Clearvoice wants to offer a single two-part tariff Question
Profit-Maximizing Two-Part Tariff If the monopolist plans on selling to both types of consumers it is always profitable to raise the per-unit price at least a little above marginal cost Regardless of the types’ relative proportions Extract some of high-demand consumers’ surplus without changing surplus of low-demand consumer (already zero) Raise per-unit price to get more surplus from high-demand consumers Adjust fixed fee so low-demand consumers’ surplus is unchanged The smaller the faction of low-demand consumer, the more worthwhile it is to raise the per-unit price Max Profits Intuition Conclusion
Using Menus to Increase Profit Even better by offering a menu of two-part tariffs, each designed to attract a specific type of consumer Intuition: Extract more surplus from high-demand consumers by making the low-demand plan less attractive to high-demand customers
High-Demand Consumers First Option for low-demand consumers: Per-minute price of 20 cents, fixed fee of $4.50 Second option intended to attract high-demand customers: Per-minute price of 10 cents, equal to Clearvoice’s marginal cost Fixed fee should be set as high as possible without causing high-demand consumer to choose the other plan With menu of plans: Firm profits are higher from high-demand consumers Profits from low-demand consumers are the same Low Demand High Demand Suppose Clearvoice offers a pair of two-part tariffs Effects
Making the Low-Demand Plan Less Attractive Can increase profit even more by making the low-demand plan less attractive to high-demand consumers That plan determines the fixed fee the firm can charge a high- demand consumer It is the level that makes the high-demand consumer indifferent between the two plans Limit the number of minutes a consumer can purchase in the 20-cent-per-minute plan Set the limit equal to the number low-demand consumers want Will have no effect on value a low-demand consumer derives Make the plan less attractive to high-demand customers Will increase the fixed fee Clearvoice can charge high-demand consumers for the 10-cent-per-minute plan
Menu of Two-Part Tariffs A firm can often profit by offering a menu of choices Designed for different types of consumers To maximize its profits, firm should try to make each plan attractive to one group only And unattractive to other consumer groups Firm benefits from setting the per-unit price in the plan intended for consumers with the highest willingness to pay equal to the marginal cost