Service capacity and price promotion wars

Junhyun Bae, Li Chen, Shiqing Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Firms often engage in price promotion wars to gain market share from their competitors. However, poor customer satisfaction as a result of limited service capacity may significantly impact such a pricing strategy. In this paper, we consider a two-firm price competitionmodel in which customers' purchase decisions are affected by their anticipation of a poor service encounter. Our equilibrium analysis reveals that firms would be less aggressive in engaging in price cutting when customers care more about service quality and when service capacity is relatively low. Interestingly, when service capacity is close (but not exact) to covering one half of the totalmarket demand, firms would adopt a mixed strategy with randomized pricing, driven by unilateralmotives to either capturemoremarket share (by lowering prices) or increase profit margin (by raising prices). We further show that having a superior service capacity presents a competitive advantage for a firm and such advantage can be preemptive. In an extended two-period model that allows for customer switching after a poor service encounter, we find that when service capacity is relatively low, firms may offer deeper price discounts in the first period if customers are forward looking than if they aremyopic. Our numerical study confirms that themain qualitative insights obtained in our base model continue to hold when the customer switching behavior is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8757-8772
Number of pages16
JournalManagement Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • service capacity
  • customer satisfaction
  • price competition
  • promotion
  • switching cost

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