Journal of Economics

, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 219–238 | Cite as

Customer poaching and coupon trading

  • Georgia Kosmopoulou
  • Qihong Liu
  • Jie ShuaiEmail author


The price discrimination literature typically makes the assumption of no consumer arbitrage. This assumption is increasingly violated in the digital economy, where coupons are traded with increased frequency online. In this paper, we analyze the welfare impacts of coupon trading using a modified Hotelling model where firms send coupons to poach each other’s loyal customers. The possibility of coupon trading renders this important instrument for price discrimination less effective. Moreover, coupon distribution has unintended consequences when coupon traders sell coupons back to a firm’s loyal customers. Consequently, coupon trading may reduce firms’ incentive to distribute coupons, leading to higher prices and profits. We find that, an increase in coupon distribution cost lowers promotion frequency but raises promotion depth, and an increase in the fraction of coupon traders lowers both promotion frequency and promotion depth.


Customer poaching Coupon trading Consumer arbitrage 

JEL Classification

D43 L13 M31 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Science FoundationArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.Wenlan School of BusinessZhongnan University of Economics and LawWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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