Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Large buyers, preferential treatment and cartel stability

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Manel Antelo (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela) and Lluis Bru (Universitat de les Illes Baleares) discuss Large buyers, preferential treatment and cartel stability.

ABSTRACT: Bilateral deals for large clients or key account management (henceforth KAM) is traditionally justified in terms of the importance of a long-term association between a firm and such clients. However, in this paper we offer a different rationale for a seller to apply KAM to its large buyers. When facing large buyers, a firm can use KAM to deal with such buyers but not to small individual buyers in order to segment the market, charge higher prices to non-KAM buyers, and increase its profits. Paradoxically, the implementation of KAM by the seller makes it advantageous for customers to belong to a buyer group, thereby eliminating the instability that would otherwise plague the creation of the group. The formation of a buyer group thus ultimately depends on the pressure it puts upon the seller to resort to KAM to segment the market.

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