Quantitative Marketing and Economics

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 59–91 | Cite as

The effects of resale-below-cost laws in the presence of a strategic manufacturer

  • Noriaki Matsushima
  • Akira Miyaoka


In retail markets, below-cost (or loss-leader) pricing is an important marketing tool to attract customers. However, several countries have adopted resale-below-cost laws that ban retailers from adopting this promotion strategy. In this study, we theoretically investigate how banning below-cost pricing influences equilibrium prices, firms’ profits, and consumer surplus. We explicitly consider not only horizontal competition between retailers but also vertical channel relationships between manufacturers and retailers. In addition, we focus on asymmetric competition between dominant and weak retailers, which have heterogeneous bargaining positions vis-à-vis an upstream manufacturer. We show that this ban induces the manufacturer to reduce its wholesale price and can lead to a decrease in equilibrium retail prices including that of a loss-leader product. We also show that owing to the effects of such price reductions, the ban always improves the total consumer surplus and can benefit the weak retailer in terms of bargaining position, although it always harms the manufacturer and the dominant retailer.


Below-cost pricing Channel power Resale-below-cost laws Vertical relations 

JEL Classification

L13 L41 M38 D21 



This paper previously circulated under the title “Who benefits from resale-below-cost laws?” We especially thank Tomás Rodríguez Barraquer, Pau Olivella Cunill, Takeshi Ebina, Kenji Fujiwara, Johannes Gierlinger, Bjørn Johansen, Atsushi Kajii, Noboru Kawahama, Antonio Miralles, Igor Mouraviev, David Pérez-Castrillo, Tadashi Sekiguchi, Fumio Sensui, the conference participants at EARIE and Japanese Economic Association, and the seminar participants at University Nagasaki, Kwansei Gakuin University, Kyoto University, Osaka University, and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona for helpful discussions and comments. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for constructive comments and suggestions. The author gratefully acknowledges financial support from JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) No. 24530248. The second gratefully acknowledges financial support from Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows No. 12J01593. The first author thanks the warm hospitality at MOVE, Universitat Aut `onoma de Barcelona where part of this paper was written. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social and Economic ResearchOsaka UniversityIbarakiJapan

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