Dynamic Platform Competition in a Two-Sided Market: Evidence from the Online Daily Deals Promotion Industry
44 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2012 Last revised: 6 Sep 2013
Date Written: February 12, 2013
We empirically study a dynamic platform competition in the online daily deals promotion industry characterized by intense rivalry between two leading promotion sites, Groupon and LivingSocial, that broker between local merchants and local consumers. We find that, for a comparable deal, the incumbent Groupon enjoys a significant advantage in performance measured in the number of coupon sales, which appears largely attributable to its greater network size in the consumer side. Yet LivingSocial successfully enters and quickly increases penetration in this market. We find no evidence that LivingSocial offers consumers more favorable terms on their deals than Groupon. Instead, on the merchant side, we find that LivingSocial poach merchants from Groupon, aided by the publicly available information on individual merchants and deal performance. Poached deals generate greater and more predictable coupon sales than the deals developed internally. While information-based poaching provides a foothold for the entrant in overcoming the initial size disadvantage, over time it turns into a competition-intensifying channel, as Groupon reacts by the same poaching strategy. Our study shows how platforms compete dynamically in a two-sided market with open information structure, thereby complements prior theoretical developments for multi-sided markets.
Keywords: two-sided market, platform competition, online daily deals, merchant poaching
JEL Classification: D40, L10, M20
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