Do We Care What Others Get? A Behaviorist Approach to Targeted Promotions
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XXXlX (August 2002) 277-241
16 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2002
Increased access to individual customers and their purchase histories has led to a growth in targeted promotions, including the practice of offering different pricing policies to prospective, as opposed to current, customers. Prior research on targeted promotions has adopted a tenet of the standard economic theory of choice, whereby what a consumer chooses depends exclusively on the prices available to that consumer. In this article, the authors propose that consumer preference for firms is affected not just by prices the consumers themselves are offered but also by prices available to others. This departure from the conventional strong rationality approach to targeted promotion results in a decidedly different optimal policy. Through a laboratory experiment, calibration of a stochastic model, and game-theoretic analysis, the authors demonstrate that ignoring behaviorist effects exaggerates the importance of targeting switchers as opposed to loyals. This occurs, though with intriguing differences, even when only part of the market is aware of firms' differing promotional policies. The authors show that both the deal percentage and the proportion of aware consumers affect the optimal strategy of the firm. Furthermore, the authors find that offering lower prices to switchers may not be a sustainable practice in the long run, as information spreads and the proportion of aware consumers grows. The model cautions practitioners against overpromoting and/or promoting to the wrong segment and suggests avenues for improving the effectiveness of targeted promotional policies.
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