Go Upscale? Quality Competition between National Brand and Store Brand
25 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 18, 2018
It is commonly assumed in private label literature that store brands are of lower quality than competing national brands. In this paper, we contest this notion by studying quality competition between a national- brand manufacturer and a store-brand retailer. The manufacturer sells its national-brand products through the retailer who produces a competing store brand at the same time. The two parties first invest in their brand qualities, after which the manufacture determines the wholesale price for the national brand and the retailer decides the retail prices for both brands. With a general quality-dependent cost structure, we explicitly characterize the equilibrium in both price and quality levels under various channel power structures. The results suggest that the store brand could possibly be of higher quality than the national brand even in absence of cost disparity; however, the store brand will charge a lower retail price whether its quality is superior to the national brand or not. Further, price competition and quality competition bear opposite implications on equilibrium solutions as well as profitability levels. Surprisingly, the manufacturer may benefit from a more costly production or quality investment scenario, while both the retailer and the supply chain will suffer from the same. The paper highlights the importance of accounting for quality decisions in the study of private label products.
Keywords: private label, store brand, game theory, competition, quality, distribution channels, power structure, brand management
JEL Classification: M11, L22, L60
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