DP15379 Competition in a spatially-differentiated product market with negotiated prices

Author(s): Walter Beckert, Howard Smith, Yuya Takahashi
Publication Date: October 2020
Keyword(s): Bargaining, construction supplies, individualized pricing, Merger Analysis, price discrimination, Spatial differentiation
JEL(s):
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15379

In many markets the buyer pays an individually-negotiated price. Theoretically, relative to uniform-pricing, this has an ambiguous impact on market power and the effects of merger. To analyze competition in the UK brick industry-where individually-negotiated pricing is used, and the market is highly concentrated-we develop a model of negotiated pricing and discrete-choice demand which permits alternative specifications for how the buyer's runner-up product affects price negotiations. We derive a likelihood for observed choices and prices and estimate the model using transaction-level data. We use the model to reject the hypothesis of price-taking buyers, calculate the distribution of markups, and measure the effect on markups of multi-product ownership and buyer location. A counterfactual policy of uniform pricing increases average markups by about one-third, harms most buyers, and magnifies the price-increasing effect of merger. Average markups increase because uniform pricing is intrinsically less competitive and because it imposes buyer price-taking.