Nearly Optimal Pricing for Multiproduct Firms
NBER Working Paper No. 13916
In principle, a multiproduct firm can set separate prices for all possible bundled combinations of its products (i.e., "mixed bundling"). However, this is impractical for firms with more than a few products, because the number of prices increases exponentially with the number of products. In this study we show that simple pricing strategies are often nearly optimal -- i.e., with surprisingly few prices a firm can obtain 99% of the profit that would be earned by mixed bundling. Specifically, we show that bundle-size pricing -- setting prices that depend only on the size of bundle purchased -- tends to be more profitable than offering the individual products priced separately, and tends to closely approximate the profits from mixed bundling. These findings are based on an array of numerical experiments covering a broad range of demand and cost scenarios, as well as an empirical analysis of the pricing problem for an 8-product firm (a theater company).
An online appendix is available for this publication.