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Elasticity and Price Discrimination


Elasticity and Price Discrimination: Evidence from Sams Club and CVS An Example In a recent New York Times article, “Sam’s Club personalizes Discounts for Buyers” (May 30 2010) the reporter Andrew Martin talks about an innovative discount idea from Sam’s Club, the warehouse chain of Wal Mart. He describes a new program called “eValues” where Sams Club customers who are “Plus” members can go to a bright green kiosk near the entrance, swipe their membership card through the card-reader and get an individualized booklet of coupons. This individualized booklet is tailored to each individuals expected demand for products and provides them with coupons for products that they would most like to purchase using the discounts. This is significantly different from the standard across the board discounts offered by most retailers. For example warehouse clubs send out a booklet of coupons that any individual belonging to these warehouses could use. Similarly grocery stores have long used “Preferred Shopper Cards” to offer discounts on products on their shelves. For example, if you browse by the selves of a grocery store aisle, you will see the price tag for a particular product offering the information that the normal price is $x while if you use the preferred shopper card for that store the price will be $(x-a). A similar though more generic idea that has often been used by producers and distributors is the coupon booklet insert that comes with your Sunday newspaper. In that booklet you get a wide