To Groupon or Not to Groupon: The Profitability of Deep Discounts
Benjamin G. Edelman
Harvard University - HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit
Harvard University - Department of Economics
Scott Duke Kominers
February 3, 2014
Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 11-063
We examine the profitability and implications of online discount vouchers, a relatively new marketing tool that offers consumers large discounts when they prepay for participating firms' goods and services. Within a model of repeat experience good purchase, we examine two mechanisms by which a discount voucher service can benefit affiliated firms: price discrimination and advertising. For vouchers to provide successful price discrimination, the valuations of consumers who have access to vouchers must generally be lower than those of consumers who do not have access to vouchers. Offering vouchers tends to be more profitable for firms which are patient or relatively unknown, and for firms with low marginal costs. Extensions to our model accommodate the possibilities of multiple voucher purchases and firm price re-optimization. Despite the potential benefits of online discount vouchers to certain firms in certain circumstances, our analysis reveals the narrow conditions in which vouchers are likely to increase firm profits.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Voucher Discounts, Groupon, Experience Goods, Repeat Purchase.working papers series
Date posted: December 18, 2010 ; Last revised: February 4, 2014
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