Managing Channel Profits

Jeuland, Abel P.; Shugan, Steven M.
January 2008
Marketing Science;Jan/Feb2008, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p52
Academic Journal
A channel of distribution consists of different channel members each having his own decision variables. However, each channel member's decisions do affect the other channel members' profits and, as a consequence, actions. A lack of coordination of these decisions can lead to undesirable consequences. For example, in the simple manufacturer-retailer-consumer channel, uncoordinated and independent channel members' decisions over margins result in a higher price paid by the consumer than if those decisions were coordinated. In addition, the ensuing suboptimal volume leads to lower profits for both the manufacturer and the retailer. This paper explores the problems inherent in channel coordination. We address the following questions. -- What is the effect of channel coordination? -- What causes a lack of coordination in the channel? -- How difficult is it to achieve channel coordination? -- What mechanisms exist which can achieve channel coordination? -- What are the strengths and weaknesses of these mechanism? -- What is the role of nonprice variables (e.g., manufacturer advertising, retailer shelf-space) in coordination? -- Does the lack of coordination affect normative implications from in-store experimentation? -- Can quantity discounts be a coordination mechanism? -- Are some marketing practices actually disguised quantity discounts? We review the literature and present a simple formulation illustrating the roots of the coordination problem. We then derive the form of the quantity discount schedule that results in optimum channel profits.


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