"Let Me Talk to My Manager": Haggling in a Competitive Environment

Desai, Preyas S.; Purohit, Devavrat
March 2004
Marketing Science;Spring2004, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p219
Academic Journal
Although negotiating over prices with sellers is common in many markets such as automobiles, furniture, services, consumer electronics, etc., it is not clear how a haggling price policy can help a firm gain a strategic advantage or whether it is even sustainable in a competitive market. In this paper, we explore the implications of haggling and fixed prices as pricing policies in a competitive market. We develop a model in which two competing retailers choose between offering either a fixed price or haggling over prices with customers. There are two consumer segments in our analysis. One segment, the hagglers, has a lower opportunity cost of time and a lower haggling cost than the other segment, the nonhagglers. When both retailers follow the same pricing policy, then a haggling policy is more profitable than a fixed-price policy only when the proportion of nonhagglers is sufficiently high. We find two kinds of prisoners' dilemma: under some conditions, a more profitable haggling policy can be broken by a fixed-price policy, and under other conditions, a fixed-price policy can be broken by a haggling policy. Surprisingly, we show that under some conditions, an asymmetric outcome with one retailer haggling and the other offering a fixed price is also an equilibrium.


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