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Channel Strategies for Durable Goods: Coexistence of Selling and Leasing to Individual and Corporate Consumers

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Abstract

In durable goods markets, such as those for automobiles or computers, the coexistence of selling and leasing is common as is the existence of both corporate and individual consumers. Leases to corporate consumers affect the price of used goods on the second-hand market which in turn affect the buying and leasing behavior of individual consumers. The setting of prices (or volumes) for sale and lease to individual and corporate consumers is a complicated problem for manufacturers. We consider a manufacturer who concurrently sells and leases a finitely durable good to both individual and corporate consumers. The interaction between the manufacturer and consumers is modeled as a dynamic sequential game, where each player seeks to maximize its own payoff over an infinite horizon. We study how the corporate channel substitutability of new goods and used goods and transaction costs in the second-hand market affect the manufacturer's pricing decisions, consumer behavior, and social welfare in the retail market. Making a number of simplifying assumptions, including two-period lifetime for the finitely durable goods, we consider Markov Perfect Equilibrium as the solution concept. We show that the manufacturer can maximize her profit by segmenting consumers according to their willingness to pay. Selling and leasing are the mechanisms used for price discrimination in the retail market. We show that as she leases a larger share of her production to the corporate consumer, (1) the manufacturer does not necessarily have to adjust the optimal selling price of new goods to individual consumers, and the volume of sales of new goods to individual consumers can stay the same; (2) the manufacturer does increase the retail lease price, and the number of individual leases decreases; (3) the net supply of used goods on the market increases, leading to a lower market price for used goods; and (4) more individual consumers are able to participate in the market, and their collective welfare or net utility improves. We also show that as production costs increase the manufacturer increases prices, reducing volumes across all channels. When transaction costs increase, the manufacturer reduces leasing in both corporate and retail channels.

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