Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Discount pricing

Armstrong, Mark and Chen, Yongmin (2012): Discount pricing.

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Abstract

This paper investigates "discount pricing", the common marketing practice whereby a price is listed as a discount from an earlier, or regular, price. We discuss two reasons why a discounted price---as opposed to a merely low price---can make a rational consumer more willing to purchase the item. First, the information that the product was initially sold at a high price can indicate the product is high quality. Second, a discounted price can signal that the product is an unusual bargain, and there is little point searching for lower prices. We also discuss a behavioral model in which consumers have an intrinsic preference for paying a below-average price. Here, a seller has an incentive to offer different prices to identical consumers, so that a proportion of its consumers enjoy a bargain. We discuss in each framework when a seller has an incentive to offer false discounts, in which the reference price is exaggerated.

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