Prices and Coupons for Breakfast Cereals
NBER Working Paper No. 6932
This paper explores the relationship between shelf prices and manufacturers' coupons for 25 ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. Contrary to the predictions of static monopoly price discrimination, we find the shelf prices for a particular brand in a particular city are generally lower during periods when coupons are available. We find evidence that is also inconsistent with dynamic theories of pricing that predict lower prices and coupons after periods of low demand, and find little support for explanations of couponing based on the vertical relationship between manufacturers and retailers. We find some support for models of price discrimination in oligopoly settings that suggest inter-brand competition can cause all prices to be lower than the uniform (non-discriminatory) price. We also find some evidence suggesting that firm-wide incentives may induce managers to use coupons and price cuts simultaneously in order, for example, to meet market share targets.
Published: Nevo, Aviv and Catherine Wolfram. "Why Do Manufacturers Issue Coupons? An Empirical Analysis Of Breakfast Cereals," Rand Journal of Economics, 2002, v33(2,Summer), 319-339.