Managing Competing Channels through Nonlinear Contracts

37 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019

See all articles by Roman Inderst

Roman Inderst

Goethe University Frankfurt

Greg Shaffer

University of Rochester - Simon Business School

Date Written: February 2014


An upstream supplier constrained by downstream competition and the threat of demand-side substitution faces a trade-off between maximizing overall joint-profit and extracting surplus. By inducing more intra-brand competition through lower wholesale prices, the supplier makes it less attractive for downstream firms to switch to alternative sources of supply. This insight yields various implications that are strikingly different from those of extant models of vertical contracting: (1) Though the supplier can control competing channels through non-linear supply contracts, marginal wholesale prices and final goods' prices both decrease when either down- stream competition intensifies or the supplier becomes more constrained by the threat of demand-side substitution. (2) It may be optimal for the supplier to "balance" his sales across competing channels through disadvantaging more efficient downstream firms, thereby smoothing out differences in market shares.

Keywords: vertical control, price discrimination, input market

JEL Classification: L13, L41, L42

Suggested Citation

Inderst, Roman and Shaffer, Greg, Managing Competing Channels through Nonlinear Contracts (February 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Roman Inderst (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
Frankfurt am Main, Hessen 60629
+49 (69) 798-34601 (Phone)
+49 (69) 798-35000 (Fax)


Greg Shaffer

University of Rochester - Simon Business School ( email )

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