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46 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
The Nature of Exclusivity
Danny Upshaw
Northwestern State University
Doug Amyx
Louisiana Tech University
Marcia Hardy
Northwestern State University
In marketing literature, discussions of exclusivity often center on certain classes of products (e.g. luxury
goods) or distribution practices. However, an examination of the marketplace reveals a much broader
use of exclusivity and exclusive promotional techniques (e.g. timed exclusivity, exclusive promotions,
exclusive products, etc.) This article seeks to remedy this gap in the literature by examining the use of
exclusivity and exclusive promotions in the marketplace, defining exclusivity in a consumer behavior
context, and providing a typology of managerial exclusivity strategies. Emphasis is given to the emerging
trend of advertised-as-retailer-exclusive-products (AREPs), which have received little recognition in the
marketing literature.
Exclusivity, as a unique concept, has rarely been studied in marketing literature, and therefore, there
have been few, if any, attempts at defining it. Often, exclusivity is used as a description for certain goods
(e.g. luxury goods) or distribution practices. However, a recent examination of the ads and aisles of local
mass market retailers (Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, etc.) revealed dozens of exclusive
products, from exclusive DVDs and Blu-Rays, to exclusive clothing items, toys, glasses, cell phones,
vacuum cleaners, and straightening irons. The number and variety of products using exclusivity
promotions is expansive. Many of these products are physically labeled as exclusive. To substantiate
these claims, a small sampling of these products and ads can be seen in Appendix A. Almost all these
products are advertised or labeled as exclusive in some fashion in promotional materials, on product
packaging, or both.
This retailing trend of exclusive promotions has been largely ignored by the marketing literature. A
clear gap between retailer practices and academic theory has developed. Despite a call by the Journal of
Retailing to investigate exclusive product assortments as a growing innovation in retail (Sorescu et al.,
2011), no developed stream of exclusivity literature exists in regards to product assortment or any other
marketing concept. Popular press articles have picked up on the trend, but little theoretical work has
probed this development (Zimmermanab, 2012; Pamar, 2010; Zacks Equity Research, 2013). Thus, this
article provides a clear definition of exclusivity from a consumer behavior perspective, discusses what
constitutes an exclusive product or promotion, and gives a typology demonstrating how exclusive
products and promotions are used in the marketplace.
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 47
The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives several definitions for the root word exclusive.
These definitions include:
1. a: excluding or having the power to exclude. b: limiting or limited to possession, control, or use by
a single individual or group. 2. a: excluding others from participation. b: snobbishly aloof. 3. a:
accepting or soliciting only a socially restricted patronage (as of the upper class). b: stylish,
fashionable. c: restricted in distribution, use, or appeal because of expense. 4. a: single, sole
<exclusive jurisdiction>. b: whole, undivided <his exclusive attention>.
Overall, the definitions of exclusivity are broad, but carry the common themes of limitations,
restrictions, and connotations of style, expense, and social class. In the context of marketing, this suggests
that exclusivity carries connotations of scarcity perceived by the buyer, whether limited in quantity,
distribution, or in time of availability. Often, as discussed later, exclusive offers are associated with
recently released products or products that have a heightened hedonic appeal. The perception of
uniqueness, too, often accompanies exclusivity. For example, an exclusive product might be perceived to
have some implicit or explicit difference from competing products that adds to the consumers perceived
value, whether hedonic or utilitarian. However, while exclusivity often connotes luxury or elevated social
status, evidence from the marketplace suggests that exclusivity can span the entire spectrum of goods and
services. Therefore, the marketing definition of exclusivity should encompass luxury as well as non-
luxury products.
At its core, the idea of exclusivity is based on differentiation. For example, Ford dealerships have a
monopoly on selling new Ford vehicles. New Fords are exclusive to Ford dealerships, and this fact is
but one of the many differentiating factors between car dealerships. In this example, a firm has little
reason to advertise the exclusivity of its products. Following Edward Chamberlins notion of
monopolistic competition, each firm has a monopoly or exclusive control and rights over certain
elements of its operation (Chamberlin, 1933). The brand name and the exclusivity of products bearing a
particular brand name are inextricably linked together. Perhaps, from a marketing perspective, this form
of exclusivity might best be called implicit exclusivity, or to follow Chamberlins language, perhaps
monopolistic exclusivity. Consumers have long been conditioned to understand such relationships
between a sales franchise and a manufacturer or branding agent. Store brands, too, are functionally similar
to this notion of exclusivity.
Retailer Exclusive Products
However, many forms of exclusivity exist. Reasons for product or service exclusivity may include,
but are not limited to: regional/geographic availability, scarcity or limited supply, store brands, price
and/or cost, and contractual obligations (e.g. contractually timed exclusivity). In recent years, a distinct
form of retailer exclusive goods, perhaps best called advertised as retailer exclusive products
(AREPs) has gained popularity. These goods are specific product lines, sometimes unique, or sometimes
only marginally different from pre-existing product lines, often produced at the request of retailers for the
purpose of combatting price competition. In fact, the Wall Street Journal points out that retailers have
begun investing heavily in exclusive products that are less vulnerable to price competition, particularly
price competition from the Internet (Zimmermanb, 2012; Zimmermana, 2012).
Academic literature, too, has identified companies such as Target and Trader Joes as using a strategy
of leveraging exclusive products. For example, Sorescu et al. (2011) point out that exclusive products are
but one of several innovative retail strategies becoming popular in recent years. Exclusive branding, too,
continues to grow as a competitive strategy (Dekimpe et al., 2011). In regards to product exclusivity,
Sorescu et al. (2011, p. S8) consider customer lock-in as the design theme of an exclusive product
strategy, and summarize the primary principle of the strategy as follows: Product assortment is unique,
inimitable and contains products with a clear and strong value proposition.
Such products, retailer exclusive versions, can best be categorized into two varieties: unadvertised
retailer-exclusive products and advertised retailer-exclusive products. Wal-Mart, for example, carries
48 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
Samsung televisions that are similar to those sold at other retailers, but their model number may differ by
one or two characters, and the televisions themselves may have only a small variation in the features
offered at other establishments. In this situation, the retailer exclusivity of the television is often not
advertised or emphasized on the showroom floor.
Causes for a lack of emphasis on retail exclusivity may vary. In some cases, a retailer may simply sell
a product or brand that is unavailable elsewhere due to manufacturer requests. Or, the retailer may request
production of an exclusive version of a product that may have slightly fewer features than the standard
model of the product found elsewhere. In this case, the retailer may order a slightly cheaper, lower quality
product that is very similar to the manufacturers regular product, but still price and present the product as
though it is of equal quality to the standard models found at other retailers. Hence, the similarity of the
products would enable brick and mortar (B&M) retailers with non-advertised exclusive product lines to
better compete on price with online or other B&M retailers who sell the standard product at a reduced
cost. Without close examination of the product feature sets, consumers may not notice a difference, other
than price, between the unadvertised retailer-exclusive model and the standard model. Also, the
exclusive-model would prevent consumers use of price-matching policies, further decreasing direct price
Timed Exclusivity and Advertised Exclusivity
However, the labeling and advertising of retailer exclusives are more recent innovations. Such
products typically come in two types: timed exclusives and specially produced products. Timed
exclusives are often used to drive traffic to a retailer and provide a competitive advantage. AT&Ts timed
exclusivity of the original iPhone is an example of a widely known advertised exclusive (Siegler, 2010;
Appendix A).
Another example of an AREP would be a retailer offering an exclusive version of a newly-released,
popular, DVD or Blu-ray (Appendix B). This version of the AREP may be identical to most other
versions, but might include a version of the film that has an additional cut, extra deleted scenes, unique
packaging, or other qualities and content that is unavailable at other retailers. The product would also
plainly be labeled as an exclusive. In addition to DVDs and Blu-rays, Target, for example, has released
several limited-edition, retailer-specific, designer clothing items (Wohl, 2011; Zimmermanb, 2012;
Sorescu et al., 2011). Generally, such exclusive items are relatively well advertised, with retailers
occasionally issuing press releases for exclusive items or putting stickers on packaging denoting the
exclusive nature of the product (Targeta, 2012; Targetb, 2012). Wal-Mart, BestBuy, and Target have all
used retailer-exclusive versions of DVD and Blu-ray films (Appendix C). Often, the exclusivity of these
items is signaled using a variety of phrases such as Exclusively at, Only at, the retailer name or logo
followed by exclusive, or in the case of designer clothing, items will use the designers name followed
by for and the retailer name (Appendix A). Such exclusivity language cues are common with AREPs.
To be clear, AREPs arose as a B&M competitive strategy specifically aimed at stifling price
competition from online retailers. Online price comparisons may make consumers more price sensitive
(Pan et al., 2002), and with easy access to online price comparisions, some consumers now engage in
showrooming behavior, in which a customer physically inspects a product in a B&M store but buys the
product at a cheaper price online. The Wall Street Journal reported that Target in an urgent letter to
vendors [] suggested that suppliers create special products that would set it apart from competitors and
shield it from the price comparisons that have become so easy for shoppers to perform on their computers
and smartphones (Zimmermanb, 2012). Indeed, the end of the letter, signed by Targets Chief Executive
and Executive Vice President of Merchandising, states: "What we aren't willing to do is let online-only
retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices without
making investments, as we do, to proudly display your brands" (Zimmermanb, 2012). Toys R Us Vice
President Troy Peterson has also stated his companys strategy as: It is our strategic position to offer
products that you can't find anywhere [else] or be compared on price (Zimmermanc, 2012; Wharton
University, 2012). Best Buys CEO has echoed similar sentiments, stating that exclusive products were
one of a variety of ways to strategically work with suppliers (Skariachan, 2012). Exclusive products make
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 49
price comparisons difficult and fight the potential for showrooming, but online retailers such as soon followed this example and have released numerous retailer exclusives of their own.
Amazon even has an entire web page dedicated to Amazon exclusive products (Appendix C).
Perhaps, the best description of exclusive value comes from Groth and McDaniels (1993) discussion
of exclusive brands. That is, similar to exclusive brands, exclusive products meet the criteria for the
exclusive value principle in that they offer exclusive features, which may offer additional value to
customers. Per Groth and McDanield (1993, p. 10), Customer perception of exclusive value can allow
effective use of prestige pricing. Therefore, in addition to making direct product comparisons across
retailers more difficult, retailer exclusive products may help justify slightly higher prices or make the
product less vulnerable to discounting competition. While prestige pricing is normally associated with
luxury brands, the concept of charging more for an exclusive, but non-luxury item, would be
conceptually similar. Also, exclusive product offers may increase retail traffic.
Similar to the exclusive value principle, Phau and Prendergrast (2000) point out that exclusivity is a
key component of luxury goods, and part of the rarity effect. They point out that luxury goods
compete, in part, on their ability to evoke exclusivity (p. 123). The appearance of luxury decays when
ownership of a brand or product becomes commonplace. Exclusive products, even lower priced goods,
evoke rarity in that they are only available at a limited number of retail chains one. Rather than the
product being rare or scarce, the number of retailers supplying the unique product is scarce. While the
retail chain may have numerous locations, the perception of exclusivity attempts to encourage the
perception of rarity.
Product Uniqueness
Most exclusive products have unique designs, colors, content, or other features, typically superficial
or minor in nature, which are exclusive to a specific retailer. Possibly, these features, or the idea of
exclusivity itself may be trivial attributes. According to Brown and Carpenter (2000, p. 372), trivial
attributes are those attributes with a trivial and/or subjective relationship to perceived quality as well as
objectively irrelevant attributes. More generally, they refer to them as attributes that do not create a
meaningful difference in the brands performance (p. 372).
As Carpenter et al. (1994) pointed out, even clearly trivial attributes may be valuable to some
consumers under certain conditions (p. 339). In the case where a consumer may have an existing bias
toward a particular color, or any hedonic, subjectively valued trivial attribute (including the notion of
exclusivity), the presence of the attribute may enhance the consumers perceived value. The effect of
trivial attributes seems to be strong, with Carpenter et al. (1994) demonstrating that even when trivial
attributes are disclosed as irrelevant before product exposure, consumers may still affect consumer value
Labeling a product as exclusive gives it one more attribute than its non-exclusive counterpart. For
some consumers, an increasing number of minor attributes, even seemingly insignificant attributes, may
lead to an increasing interest or positive valuation of the product (Carpenter et al., 1994; Brown &
Carpenter, 2000). Depending upon the context, consumers may find irrelevant, meaningless, or trivial
attributes relevant and valuable under certain conditions (Carpenter et al. 1994, p. 339). That is, useless
features may be perceived as ambiguously positive by the consumer (Brown & Carpenter 2000, p. 375).
Discussed as a product differentiation strategy, Carpenter et al (1994, p. 340) suggest that trivial attributes
attempt to create a valuable product difference[s], but in fact, [do] not. However, if a trivial feature
distracts from the intended purpose of a product, the effects may be harmful to product impressions
(Simonson et al., 1993, 1994; Brown and Carpenter 2000, p. 373).
Overall, while the effect of trivial attributes on product valuations is subjective and context sensitive,
the evidence indicates that trivial attributes can influence consumer behavior. Thus, even if the attributes
50 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
associated with an exclusive product are trivial in nature, they often still affect consumer behavior. The
exclusivity label in isolation, too, might be seen as an attribute that adds value to a product.
Exclusivitys Appeal: Unique Product Assortments
While exclusive products are increasingly common, some risk may be associated with increasing the
number of unique in-store items. Prior research has shown that increasing the number of unique products
in-store can make consumers more price conscious because they cannot directly price match with other
retailers (Kukar-Kinney et al., 2007). Cognizant of this fact, a cautious approach to increasing the number
of retailer exclusive items might be prudent. Indeed, the notion of product-assortment as a competitive
advantage has been a doubtful proposition. Typically, retailers do not produce products manufacturers
do. Thus, a competitive advantage built around exclusive goods, a form of enhanced product assortment,
is usually seen as unlikely or difficult to achieve (Sorescu et al., 2011). Since this strategy defies
convention, studying firms that have successfully implemented an exclusive products approach to gain a
competitive advantage is of both practical and academic interest.
Exclusivitys Appeal: Exclusive Promotions
The notions of exclusivity in distribution management, franchising, production, and business-to-
business commerce, are common and are often legally protected due to contractual obligations or business
arrangements. A franchisee, for example, may have the exclusive contractual/legal right to market a brand
in a particular geographic area, and new products may see exclusive distribution (e.g. Peres & Van den
Bulte, 2014). Since these concepts are familiar to most marketing scholars and managers, this discussion
will focus on lesser known aspects of exclusivity and consumer reactions to exclusivity.
Other work in exclusivity in the context of products and consumer perceptions to such exclusive
branding has focused on exclusive prices or deals (Barone & Roy, 2010ab), limited edition products
(Balachander & Stock, 2009), or luxury brands (Truong et al., 2009; Phau & Prendergast, 2000; Tynan et
al., 2010).
Baron and Roy (2010b) conducted an experiment to examine the social considerations of deal
exclusivity in which some subjects received an exclusive offer, while others did not. They found that
when subjects saw themselves as part of an exclusive audience (individuals offered an invitation-only
promotion), they assessed exclusive promotions more favorably than inclusive promotions (Barone &
Roy, 2010b). Grewal et al. (2011, p. S47) summarize Baron and Roys work by stating that such offers
have the greatest appeal to consumers who adopt an independent rather than collectivist self-construal.
Indeed, Barone and Roy found that subjects high in need for uniqueness found the greatest appeal in
exclusive promotions. However, the exclusive offers capacity to evoke more positive assessments was
mediated by the offers ability to enable the recipient to engage in self-enhancement (p. 78).
In a second article, Barone and Roy (2010a) reaffirm that consumers evaluations
of exclusive promotions were driven by the need for self-enhancement. Exclusive deals can help
consumers with an independent self-construal and high need for uniqueness by allowing them to attain
values related to autonomy (p. 129). By attaining these values, consumers participate in self-
enhancement (Barone and Roy, 2010a; Brewer, 1991). However, consumers who held collectivist self-
construal views might find exclusive and inclusive offers equally appealing, or even find the exclusive
offer slightly less appealing. An inclusive offer could confirm their desire to maintain harmony with
others (Barone and Roy, 2010a, p. 129). In other words, an exclusive offer could alienate consumers who
seek conformity. In summary, exclusive invitation only promotions appeal to some customers, but
potentially alienate others. Barone and Roy also found that men, provided that they had a prior
relationship with the marketer, were more positively affected by exclusive promotions than women who
had a prior relationship with the marketer (2010a).
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 51
Exclusivitys Appeal: Luxury Brands, AREPs, and Perceived Scarcity
Luxury brands, whose literature is often conceptually related to the notion of retailer exclusive
products, are usually exclusive in terms of both accessibility and price and are strongly associated with
prestige (Truong et al., 2009). To paraphrase Godey et al. (2009, p. 527), the distribution of luxury goods
is typically selective if not exclusive. Yet, a universal definition of luxury goods and brands has been
elusive (Tynan et al., 2010; Godey et al., 2009) due to its subjective nature. Similarly, discussions
focused on the various forms of exclusivity are rare.
Definitions of luxury range from anything unnecessary (Sekora, 1977) to marketing terminology
for a tier or offer of products or services (Bernard et al., 2005; Vigneron & Johnson, 1999), to the
common economist classification as goods for which demand rises either in proportion with income or in
greater proportion than income (i.e. where the income elasticity of demand is equal or greater than 1
(Tynan et al., 2010, p. 1157). However, the economic definition does not fit for marketing purposes as
demand for goods is not solely driven by economic progress or income level (Dubois & Duquesne, 1993;
Van Kempen, 2007). Kapferer (1997) and Vigneron and Johnson (2004) perhaps give the most
generalizable definition of luxury, which is goods for which the simple use or display of a particular
branded product brings esteem on the owner, apart from any functional utility (Vigneron & Johnson,
2004, p. 486). Thus, for Vigneron and Johnson, psychological benefits and self-enhancement are the
primary determinants of luxury.
According to Hudders (2012, p. 609), luxury goods are brands associating with a premium quality
and/or an aesthetically appealing design. Hudders continues In addition, luxury brands are exclusive,
which implies expensiveness and/or rarity (p. 609). For this reason, luxury brands are especially
susceptible to damage from counterfeiting, which harms the impression of exclusivity (Tynan et al.,
2010). Hence, exclusivity is a key feature of luxury goods as well as AREPs. And, regarding the
connotation of exclusivity, they may operate similarly in the consumers mind. Individuals may derive
hedonic value (e.g. personal satisfaction), subjective intangible benefits, and personal prestige from
luxury goods (Tynan et al., 2010; Vigneron & Johnson, 1999, 2004). Luxury brands, in particular, (and
possessions in general per Belk, 1988) are associated with self-expression and the ideal self (Vigneron
& Johnson, 1999, 2004).
While the prices of luxury products are part of their exclusivity, the perceived value of any
exclusive product may arguably offer similar benefits (Smith & Colgate, 2007). Much like consumers
who seek out luxury goods partially for their exclusivity, consumers may seek out exclusive goods of a
non-luxury nature for similar mentally appealing reasons. And, similar to high price as a sign of luxury,
the typically higher price of exclusive goods may signal slightly better quality than non-exclusive,
cheaper versions of the same products. After all, price is a well-established cue for quality, especially
when other information cues have limited availability (Zeithaml, 1988; Rao & Monroe, 1989; Dodds et
al., 1991). Simply put, when information is limited, price may function as a shortcut for making quality
judgments, and therefore, high price can make some products and services more attractive (Rao &
Monroe, 1989; Erickson & Johansson, 1985; Lichtenstein et al., 1988). In particular, high price can be a
sign of luxury (Lichtenstein et al., 1993ab). Other extrinsic cues may function similarly in the absence of
clear intrinsic cues (Zeithaml, 1988).
In the case of AREPs, as an extrinsic cue, the label exclusive or only at likely gives several
embedded extrinsic meanings beyond what price alone would give. For example, retailers who use an
AREP strategy advertise products as exclusive only do so if the label represents some positive quality
about a product because emphasizing a poor quality product as exclusive could harm the retailers
image. As with luxury goods, the connotations carried by AREPs are likely similar. These meanings may
include product scarcity, product quality, prestige, uniqueness, or a variety of other benefits.
Furthermore, it should be noted that luxury brands are sometimes carried at big-box retailers. Limited
edition, exclusive runs of designer clothing, luggage, and similar products at specific retailers are more
similar to pure luxury goods in that designer names are likely embedded with the notion of exclusivity.
By offering luxury branded items at lower prices, big-box retailers can offer the consumer more value for
their money. Gierl & Huettl (2010, p. 227) specifically address this example in their discussion of types
52 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
of scarcity by stating: Sometimes, collections designed by famous fashion designers are distributed by
standard retail chains, which only offer a limited number of items. If customers buy such products, they
can signal their good taste and be admired by their friends. Much the same way, if a designer produces a
limited design exclusively for a specific retailer, then the scarcity is even further enhanced.
As an example, Target has made great use of this strategy by hiring several different designers over
the last few years. In 2011, demand for Targets exclusive set of limited edition products by Italian
designer Missoni caused to crash, but was hailed as both a sales and publicity success
(Dishman, 2011). The introduction of the retailer exclusive, limited edition line generated large amounts
of web traffic, greater than those reported on Black Friday, and long lines at Target stores. Additionally,
the products sold out in hours and some media outlets reported the lines, opening of the store, and ensuing
rush as having Black Friday-like conditions (Grinberg, 2011; Howell, 2011; Associated Press, 2014). In
this example, the product brand was luxurious, the designs were exclusive to one retailer, and the
products were limited edition. Hence, the company successfully created high demand for the products
using a combination of exclusivity and scarcity strategies.
Theoretical Support for Exclusivitys Appeal
Brocks (1968, p. 246) discussion of commodity theory suggests that any commodity will be valued
to the extent that it is unavailable, where a commodity is defined as anything that can be possessed, is
useful to its possessor, and is transferable from one person to another (Lynn, 1991), or in more general
terms, a useful and transferable object (Gierl & Huettl, 2010, p. 227; Brock & Mazzocco, 2004). This
broad definition of commodities would apply to most exclusive goods, and the notion that a product is
unavailable, at least in a limited sense, is embedded in the idea of exclusivity. However, the true
scarcity of an AREP could be great or negligible. Through labeling and advertising, retailers attempt to
give the impression of product scarcity, when a more accurate interpretation of the perceived scarcity is
that the number of retailers selling the product is limited to one exclusive retailer. Thus, in the sense that
AREPs attempt to increase value by giving the perception of limited availability, they would work well
within the confines of commodity theory.
Exclusivity and scarcity, while related concepts, are not identical. Exclusive products are not always
scarce, at least, not in the sense that they are limited in supply, and scarce products are not always
exclusive to one retailer or region. Furthermore, while some firms may choose to limit production and
create product scarcity for business reasons (e.g. to create the impression of high demand and induce
buying frenzy) (DeGraba, 1995; Brown, 2001), scarcity is most often seen as a natural marketplace
condition related to supply, demand, or distribution limitations.
From the consumer perspective, scarcity messages come in two types: limited-time scarcity (LTS)
and limited-quantity scarcity (LQS) (Aggarwal et al., 2011). Aggarwal et al. (2011) point out that scarcity
messages typically have a positive impact on the evaluation of and attitude toward the object of the
message and that such messages have generally been effective across cultures (p. 19). In their own work,
Aggarwal et al. (2011) found that LQS messages were more effective than LTS messages, and that this
effect was heightened for symbolic brands, which are associated with hedonic appeals, expression of self-
concept or self-image, and consumer self-enhancement (p. 21).
Exclusivity may be used as a simple advertising technique with little regard to actual scarcity.
However, how AREPs fit into the LTS and LQS paradigm is unclear. For example, AREPs can often be
found in abundance at a specific retailer and may not be scarce in the overall marketplace. Yet, the
number of firms selling the AREP is scarce, or limited to one. AREPs are unique in that no pre-specified
time of availability (LTS) or limited quantity (LQS) is emphasized.
Thus, exclusive products may or may not be scarce, but the perception of scarcity implied by
advertised exclusivity has become a common marketing tool. The Harvard Business Review, in a
discussion of retromarketing, supports this assertion, saying that customers crave exclusivity [emphasis
in original] and that implied scarcity (e.g. get it while supplies last) is one of the oldest arrows in the
marketing quiver (Brown, 2001, p. 84-85). When customers buy an exclusive product, they believe they
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 53
are lucky or part of the discerning elite (Brown, 2001, p. 85). In many ways, the idea of exclusivity
can be seen as a re-framing of classic, implied scarcity promotions.
In summary, while the exclusive products may differ in perceived prestige and pricing levels, they
may be quite similar in their appeal on several psychological bases. These might include meeting a need
for uniqueness and its accompanying self-enhancement (through meeting a psychological need for
independent self-construal). For example, AREPs and luxury goods also attempt to be less vulnerable to
discounting pressure through their perceived uniqueness. While luxury goods may use prestige pricing,
the concepts held in the exclusive value principle would also likely apply to AREPs (Groth &
McDaniel, 1993). That is, an element of perceived scarcity is common to AREPs and luxury goods and
may play a role in price evaluations. Both product types may also offer enhanced hedonic and utilitarian
value to consumers beyond what is found in typical non-exclusive products. Exclusive promotions, too,
have been shown to appeal on a hedonic basis (Baron and Roy, 2010ab).
From relatively inexpensive items such as DVDs and Blu-rays to expensive items such as luxury
goods, the term exclusive seems to encompass an extremely broad spectrum of products and associated
promotional strategies. Exclusivity may be explicitly stated through promotions, or it may be implicit.
However, some elements are common to connotations of exclusivity in a marketing context. Perhaps,
chief among these is the perception of scarcity. Whether through retail distribution, as in the case of
AREPs, or difficulty in acquiring the money to purchase an item, as is often the case with luxury goods,
exclusivity carries the common theme that a product is somewhat more difficult to acquire than it would
be if it were non-exclusive. Thus, the authors suggest the following definition for the term exclusive
within a consumer behavior context:
Exclusive: The perception, whether due to explicit advertising or implicit understanding, such as with
luxury goods, that a consumers capacity to acquire a product is limited. This limitation may be due to
a variety of factors, including but not limited to distribution restrictions (e.g. regional, channel,
contractual, governmental, etc.), expense, scarcity (real or perceived), or social restrictions. Typically,
the idea of an exclusive product or service carries a positive connotation.
With this definition and preceding discussion of exclusivity in mind, a typology of exclusivity is
presented below. Whereas the definition focused on consumer perceptions of exclusivity, the typology
focuses on managerial uses of exclusivity. Please note that some forms of exclusivity are extremely
similar to others. For example, private label brands, franchise brands, and manufacturer brands are all
exclusive in their distribution because they are protected by trademarks and other legal remedies.
However, the owner of an intellectual property has a variety of ways in which they may choose to
distribute a product or brand. In some cases, the types of exclusivity may overlap.
Also, rather than discuss exclusivity as advertised or unadvertised, the typology discusses
exclusivity from the perspective of implicit or explicit exclusivity. For implicitly exclusive items,
such as luxury goods, these more precise terms give a better indication of the products connotation than
simply saying that the product is unadvertised. Refer to Table 1 for the typology of exclusivity.
54 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
Implicit or
Explicit? Description Example Associated
(due to trade-
marks, patent
laws, etc.)
Private Label Brands: (retailing
definition) A brand name or label name
attached to or used in the marketing of
a product other than by the product
manufacturers; usually by a retailer. If
owned by the retailer, these are
commonly called store brands.
Sams Choice products
are exclusive to Wal-Mart
owned business entities.
Franchise Brands: Products are
distributed through exclusive contracts
with franchise licensees that meet
certain qualifications.
Only McDonalds
franchises can sell
Customer Lock-
in; Franchise
Wholesaler Exclusivity: A wholesaler
controls the distribution of a product or
Under Michigan law,
beer wholesalers are
granted exclusive
distribution rights to sell
beer produced out of state
(Michigan Department of
Licensing & Regulatory
Affairs, 2012).
May vary,
depending upon
the franchise
Manufacturer Exclusivity: A
manufacturer controls the production
and distribution of its products; often
similar to franchise exclusivity.
Ford Motor Co.
exclusively owns the
Ford brand, manufactures
Ford vehicles, and
controls their distribution.
Customer Lock-
(due to the
unique nature
of the
Implied Exclusivity: Luxury
brands/products; the price, promotion,
quality, brand history, or perceived
scarcity imply exclusivity to the
Build brand
Prestige Pricing
Disguised Exclusivity: Retailers have
contractually exclusive versions of a
product that are unavailable elsewhere.
These products are not advertised or
labeled as exclusive. Typically, they
have fewer features or a cheaper price
than comparable products models
available elsewhere.
Samsung televisions sold
at Wal-Mart sometimes
have unique UPC codes.
At a glance, they may
appear identical to more
expensive Samsung
televisions at other
retailers. However, upon
closer inspection, they
often have slightly
diminished feature sets.
competition and
avoidance of
Channel Exclusivity: A product is only
distributed through a single channel,
sometimes through a single firm.
Jerry Seinfelds web-only
TV series, Comedians in
Cars Getting Coffee.
Customer Lock-
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 55
Implicit or
Explicit? Description Example Associated
Exclusivity Regional Exclusivity: Products are
exclusive to one geographic region.
This may be due to supply constraints,
distribution difficulties, legal reasons,
differing regional market needs, or a
wide variety of other business
In 2015, Ford plans to
launch the Vignale line of
luxury vehicles in
Europe. This line is
designed for the
European market and is
not planned for sale in
North America.
May vary,
depending on
the type of
product and
Timed Exclusivity: Retailers or service
providers gain contractually exclusive
rights to distribute a product, brand or
service for a specified period of time.
The Apple iPhone was
exclusive to AT&T stores
upon its launch.
Customer Lock-
Retailer Exclusive Versions of
Products (Explicit): Retailers have
contractually exclusive versions of a
product that are unavailable elsewhere.
These products are advertised or
labeled as retailer exclusive.
Exclusive versions of
dvds/Blu-rays; a wide
variety of other low to
moderately priced
products (Appendix A).
Customer Lock-
Exclusive promotions for specific
subgroups of customers or customers
who meet certain criteria (e.g. the
customer received an exclusive offer
in his/her mail).
Amazon offers exclusive
discounts on some
products for orders
through the Amazon
Echo or other devices
using Amazons Alexa
voice technology;
alternatively, a company
may send an exclusive
offer to its best
consumer sub-
Customer Lock-
Inspired by the Journal of Retailings (Sorescu et al., 2011) call to investigate exclusive products as
an innovation in retailing, this paper offers an in-depth examination of exclusivity in the marketplace and
discusses how consumers may react to exclusivity. The concept of exclusive is discussed in terms of
what it suggests and implies to both consumers and retailers. Further, the notion of exclusive in a
consumer behavior setting is defined. More significantly, a typology of retailer exclusivity is presented
where the concept is identified as being either implicit or explicit.
The definition of exclusive within a consumer behavior context identifies the core components of
exclusivity, and summarizes what the word exclusive implies to the consumer. The definition may form
the foundation from which future research into exclusivity can progress. At a minimum, researchers now
have a starting point to confirm, disprove, or modify. Previously, discussions of exclusivity were wide-
ranging, usually within the context of other topics, and had no clear commonality. Now, a cohesiveness
discussion can develop around the concept of exclusivity as its own topic of interest.
The typology is useful to both academics and managers. Since the forms of exclusivity vary greatly,
academics may wish to specify which kind of exclusivity their work involves, and managers can gain a
better understanding of when, how, or why exclusivity strategies are commonly used. Exclusive products,
particularly advertised-as-retailer-exclusive-products (AREPs), and promotions appear to be a growing
56 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
retail trend as evidenced in Appendix A, and the typology identifies the explicit  often labeled or
advertised  form of exclusivity becoming more common in the marketplace. Recognizing this distinction
is an important step in theory as implicit forms of exclusivity, such as those guaranteed by contract law or
product type (e.g. luxury good), are already well-known in marketing academia.
For the practitioner, retailer exclusivity is increasingly becoming a means to differentiate product
offerings to consumers who seek value through having products that are unique or special. Exclusivity is
also a means to combat showrooming by consumers while providing a potential competitive advantage
with features that are entirely unique to a particular manufacturer or retailer. Discouraging direct price
competition, discouraging showrooming, and customer lock-in are a few of the numerous strategies
associated with exclusivity strategies. The typology attempts to encompass all of these strategies.
Finally, this paper offers a means to identify and understand a common practice that has emerged
more recently in retailing that has a particular appeal to millennials who seek individualized attention and
want to feel that they are unique and special (Howe and Nadler, 2009; Lindquist, 2008). As millennials
continue to age and become an even greater consumer market force, marketers will likely need to find
more creative ways to appeal to the millennial generations desire for unique or non-standard
goods/services and the use of exclusivity has the potential to effectively meet that need.
Future Research
Since this work identifies numerous exclusivity strategies, future research should focus on when
managers should use a specific exclusivity strategy. For example, despite executive comments and
popular press articles about using exclusive products to avoid showrooming and price competition
(Zimmermanab, 2012; Pamar, 2010; Zacks Equity Research, 2013), few, if any, academic works have
researched this strategys effectiveness. That is do exclusive products deter showrooming? And, if so,
on what psychological basis are they successful? While some research (e.g Barone & Roy, 2010ab) has
focused on exclusive promotions, investigation into exclusive products and promotions strategies is
Exclusivity strategies may operate similarly to other forms of scarcity promotions (e.g. limited edition
products, limited time scarcity promotions, etc.), but no data exists to confirm this possibility. Rather, the
concept of exclusivity lends itself to numerous contexts (unique product assortments, luxury goods,
promotions that are exclusive to subgroups of customers, etc.) and its success as a managerial strategy
may be affected by a variety of factors. For example, the retailer offering the exclusive may affect the
effectiveness of the appeal. Is a Wal-Mart exclusive more or less appealing than an Amazon exclusive
variant of the same product? Also, product category, attributes (including trivial attributes), and a variety
of other factors may temper the success of an exclusive promotion or product offering. Future research
should clarify when exclusivity strategies should be used, and on what psychological basis exclusivity
strategies appeal to consumers. Due to the breadth of exclusivity strategies identified in the typology, the
success or failure of these strategies may be highly contextual.
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Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 61
Examples of AREPs
Row I:
Screenshot of the AT&T exclusive iPhone. Screenshot taken from AT&Ts home page.
Row II:
Converse One Star shoe and clothing collection (Target Exclusive in Fall 2010) Image taken from: on June 10, 2013.
Gunnar Intercept glasses (A specific style of Gunnar eyeglasses that are Exclusively at Best Buy
MSRP $59.99) Image taken from:
exclusive/ on June 10, 2013.
Row III:
Neon Mixr Beats by Dr. Dre headphones (Only at Target Neon Mixrs were a timed exclusive. MSRP
$249.99; Image taken from a promo event and hosted at: Note: These headphones were advertised
on television as a Target exclusive item. Timed exclusivity noted here:
Notably, Best Buy signed a timed exclusivity agreement for the ear buds version of the same product. June 10th, 2013. The ear buds were advertised as Only at Best Buy
on television during the 2013 NBA finals.
Toshiba Laptop  Best Buy Exclusive as advertised in their Black Friday 2012 sales paper. Pricing info
taken from: .
Pizza with an Exclusive Tops baseball card Image taken by the author, Danny Upshaw, at Wal-Mart
Neighborhood Market in April of 2016 in Pineville, LA.
Row IV:
Taylor Swift Speak Now Live CD + DVD Deluxe Exclusive edition (Only at Target) Image take from:
Tour%20Live%20Target%20Exclusive.jpg The Target exclusive deluxe version currently retails for
$16.99 , while the
Walmart non-exclusive version currently retails for $10.99.
Missoni designer clothing collection (For Target)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra action figures (Only at Walmart) Image hosted at:
Row V:
Tera PC video game (Exclusively at Best Buy, The Blue Roan Mount) Image hosted at:
Dyson DC24 floor cleaner (Target Exclusive Color) Advertised in the 2012 Target Black Friday sale
62 Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017
Chi Air Flat Irons (Target Exclusive Holiday Colors include free Thermal Clutch) Advertised in the
2012 Target Black Friday sale paper.
Not pictured:
Motorola - DROID RAZR M 4G LTE Mobile Phone  Platinum (Best Buy Exclusive  Model #
MOTXT907S. Platinum color with blue buttons was a Best Buy Exclusive version.)
Source 1:
Source 2:
Source 3:
Star Trek: Catan (Target Exclusive version of the board game Catan) Source: This item was also
advertised in Target sale papers along with exclusive versions of other board games as Target Exclusive
Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness Vol. 11(2) 2017 63
... Exclusive language, which is either verbal or non-verbal (Dragomir et al., 2021), involves discrimination against a marginalized group (Geyser-Fouche, 2016; David et al., 2016), such as gendered bias against women (Rubin and Greene, 1991;de Lemus and Estevan-Reina, 2021), ageism against senior citizens (DeRenzo and Malley, 1993;Polizzi and Millikin, 2002;Previtali et al., 2020) or racism against a different racial group (Faulkner and Bliuc, 2018). This process of out-grouping others has been identified as an exclusionary process (Foucault, 2016), which is characterized by limitations and restrictions (Upshaw et al., 2017;Ali, 2020). ...
Purpose This research aims to explore how racist language in service interactions in the health and education sectors affects service consumers belonging to the Sheedi community in Pakistan’s Sindh province. This research questions the use of racist language and proposes the use of inclusive language in service sectors to reduce the discrimination the Sheedi community faces because of such racist language. Design/methodology/approach This empirical study takes place in the health and education sectors in Sindh province. Using a qualitative and narrative approach, this study categorizes Sheedi service consumers’ personal experiences to gain deep and holistic insights into the racist language used in service interactions and proposes the use of inclusive language. Findings Findings demonstrate how some non-Sheedis used racist language against the Sheedi service consumers in the health and education sectors, and how such racist language was influenced by class consciousness and gender bias. Inclusive language, which emphasizes professional lexicon, culturally appropriate terminology, gender-neutral vocabulary and other socially acceptable terms, was proposed to be used in the service interactions with Sheedi service consumers. Originality/value This study makes a conceptual contribution to existing literature on the use of language in service interactions and documents how the Sheedi community is treated in Pakistan’s Sindh province. This research can help researchers expand research in contexts where the use of racist language hinders progress, while the use of inclusive language can lead to sustainable development of service sectors.
... Exclusive language, which is either verbal or non-verbal (Dragomir et al., 2021), involves discrimination against a marginalized group (Geyser-Fouche, 2016; David et al., 2016), such as gendered bias against women (Rubin and Greene, 1991;de Lemus and Estevan-Reina, 2021), ageism against senior citizens (DeRenzo and Malley, 1993;Polizzi and Millikin, 2002;Previtali et al., 2020) or racism against a different racial group (Faulkner and Bliuc, 2018). This process of out-grouping others has been identified as an exclusionary process (Foucault, 2016), which is characterized by limitations and restrictions (Upshaw et al., 2017;Ali, 2020). ...
This research explores how racist language in service interactions in the health and education sectors affects service consumers belonging to the Sheedi community in Pakistan’s Sindh province. This research questions the use of racist language and proposes the use of inclusive language in service sectors to reduce the discrimination the Sheedi community faces due to such racist language. This empirical study takes place in the health and education sectors in Sindh province. Using a qualitative and narrative approach, this study categorizes Sheedi service consumers’ personal experiences to gain deep and holistic insights into the racist language used in service interactions and proposes the use of inclusive language. Findings demonstrate how some non-Sheedis used racist language against the Sheedi service consumers in the health and education sectors, and how such racist language was influenced by class consciousness and gender bias. Inclusive language, which emphasizes professional lexicon, culturally appropriate terminology, gender-neutral vocabulary, and other socially acceptable terms, was proposed to be used in the service interactions with Sheedi service consumers. This study makes a conceptual contribution to existing literature on the use of language in service interactions and documents how the Sheedi community is treated in Pakistan’s Sindh province. This research can help researchers expand research in contexts where the use of racist language hinders progress, while the use of inclusive language can lead to sustainable development of service sectors.
... Also, the findings suggest that the quality of pisco is not linked, mostly, with the concept of exclusivity, which explains why it is perceived as a cheaper product and, therefore, its consumers show a lower willingness to pay higher prices. In this regard, there are authors who, after examining the direct relationship between the price and the perception of exclusivity of a good, argue that exclusive products can help justify higher prices or make a product less vulnerable to competition (Heyes & Lashley, 2017;Upshaw et al., 2017). An aspect that is worth taking into consideration, when observing the competitive dynamics of the sector. ...
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In the current competitive environment of pisco industry, it´s essential to differentiate the offer in the market. In this context, the brand represents an attribute of significant value that allows the consumer to identify the origin of the good and, to the company to differentiate its products and services. The aim of this research was to analyze the brand value of Chilean pisco (the most important Chilean distillate) in the main pisco area of the country: Coquimbo Region. A questionnaire was developed, based on the multidimensional brand value model of Aaker (1991), which was applied to a probabilistic sample of 254 consumers. The results showed that the factors with the greatest and least relevance are of behavioral type: notoriety and brand loyalty, respectively. This would reveal a customer who recognizes the characteristics of the product (cognitive loyalty), but that doesn’t necessarily buy the product (behavioral loyalty). In addition, the examination of the variables according to the participant’s profile, allowed to find significant differences, according to sex and income (in the notoriety dimension); and age (in the perceived quality and brand associations dimensions). It’s concluded that there are determinant attributes of brand value for consumers, whose right management would allow improving the positioning and competitiveness of Chilean pisco in the market.
... Also, the findings suggest that the quality of pisco is not linked, mostly, with the concept of exclusivity, which explains why it is perceived as a cheaper product and, therefore, its consumers show a lower willingness to pay higher prices. In this regard, there are authors who, after examining the direct relationship between the price and the perception of exclusivity of a good, argue that exclusive products can help justify higher prices or make a product less vulnerable to competition (Heyes & Lashley, 2017;Upshaw et al., 2017). An aspect that is worth taking into consideration, when observing the competitive dynamics of the sector. ...
En un entorno globalizado y competitivo como el de la industria pisquera, es fundamental distinguir la oferta propia de la de otros competidores. En este sentido, la marca es un atributo de valor significativo que permite al consumidor identificar el origen del bien y a la empresa diferenciar sus productos y servicios en el mercado. El objetivo de esta investigación fue analizar el valor de marca del pisco chileno (el destilado más importante de Chile) en la principal zona pisquera del país: la Región de Coquimbo. Se elaboró un instrumento de medición, basado en el modelo multidimensional de valor de marca de Aaker (1991), que fue aplicado a una muestra probabilística de 254 consumidores del destilado. Los resultados mostraron que los factores con mayor y menor relevancia son de tipo comportamental: notoriedad y lealtad de marca, respectivamente. Esto devela un cliente cuya lealtad es mayormente cognitiva, que valora y reconoce las características del producto, pero no necesariamente adquiere la bebida (lealtad conductual). Además, el examen de las variables según el perfil del participante permitió advertir diferencias significativas, según sexo e ingresos (en la dimensión notoriedad); y según edad (en las dimensiones de calidad percibida y asociaciones de la marca). Se concluye que existen atributos determinantes del valor de marca para los consumidores, cuyo develamiento y gestión adecuada permitirían mejorar el posicionamiento y la competitividad del pisco chileno en el mercado.
... Marketers are interested in using scarcity promotion strategy (Fowler, 2018) to create high sales rapidly (Parker and Lehman, 2011;Ku et al., 2012;Das et al., 2018). Yeezy Boost shoe collection from Adidas, Kaws T-shirt products from Uniqlo and Supreme clothing brands are several of those sought after by consumers who want an exclusive status when using these products (Upshaw et al., 2017). ...
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Marketers often apply the strategy of scarcity promotion to attract consumer attention to the company’s product. However, this strategy often increases consumer’s destructive, aggressive behaviors. A quantitative approach using the experimental method was thus conducted in this study to reveal the effect of advertisement exposure with scarcity promotion strategy on aggressive consumer response towards the product that the company offered. The results show that advertisements with a scarcity strategy expose one’s perception that other consumers are perceived as threats. This perception arises since the probability of getting the product they want will be decreased when others are running after the same product. Theoretically, this condition will elevate the tendency of aggressive consumer behavior when attaining the product. Three studies with multiple behavioral measurements conducted on STIE YKPN students show destructive responses to the scarcity promotion applied by the company
... What does seem to be true is that traditionally exclusivity was associated only with luxury goods, whereas it is increasingly being used in a wide variety of cate-gories including in groceries. (See, e.g., Gielens et al (2014) and Upshaw et al (2017).) We hope that our ( ; v) framework o¤ers a new way to think about exclusivity. ...
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Although luxury goods form a distinct economic sector in many countries, a certain vagueness still remains over the concepts of luxury and the luxury brand. How does the luxury brand differ from the ‘up-market’ brand or the ordinary brand? Are the differences simply those of degree or inherent in the luxury brand's nature? In reality the vagueness in the current definitions of luxury highlights the disappearance of certain differences, that nevertheless remain significant in the management of luxury brands and the management of, say, a quality brand. At a time when many luxury brands are losing their independence to large industrial conglomerates, that have long practised mass marketing, it is essential to recall the essential distinctiveness of luxury brand management.
Seven price-related constructs—five consistent with a perception of price in its “negative role” and two consistent with a perception of price in its “positive role”— are used as independent variables to predict marketplace responses/behaviors in five domains: price search, generic product purchases, price recall, sale responsiveness, and coupon redemption. The price-related constructs explain a significant amount of variance in all five domains, providing evidence of predictive validity. Results of a higher order factor analysis are also reported, which provide some support for the positive-negative perception of price taxonomy.
The authors report a study of the effects of price, brand, and store information on buyers’ perceptions of product quality and value, as well as their willingness to buy. Hypotheses are derived from a conceptual model positing the effects of extrinsic cues (price, brand name, and store name) on buyers’ perceptions and purchase intentions. Moreover, the design of the experiment allows additional analyses on the relative differential effects of price, brand name, and store name on the three dependent variables. Results indicate that price had a positive effect on perceived quality, but a negative effect on perceived value and willingness to buy. Favorable brand and store information positively influenced perceptions of quality and value, and subjects’ willingness to buy. The major findings are discussed and directions for future research are suggested.
The authors integrate previous research that has investigated experimentally the influence of price, brand name, and/or store name on buyers’ evaluations of product quality. The meta-analysis suggests that, for consumer products, the relationships between price and perceived quality and between brand name and perceived quality are positive and statistically significant. However, the positive effect of store name on perceived quality is small and not statistically significant. Further, the type of experimental design and the strength of the price manipulation are shown to significantly influence the observed effect of price on perceived quality.
Previous research on coupon proneness has measured the construct only in behavioral terms (i.e., consumers who are more responsive to coupon promotions are coupon prone). On the basis of the study premise that at least one other psychological construct, value consciousness, underlies the behavior of redeeming coupons, the authors argue that coupon proneness should be conceptualized and measured at a psychological level and treated as one construct that affects coupon-responsive behavior rather than as isomorphic with the behavior. They offer conceptual definitions of both coupon proneness and value consciousness and make a theoretical distinction based on acquisition-transaction utility theory. Eight hypotheses that reflect theoretical differences between the two constructs are proposed and tested. Results support the study premise that coupon-responsive behavior is a manifestation of both value consciousness and coupon proneness.
Manufacturers or resellers introducing a new product often must decide whether and for how long to be its exclusive seller. Standard models of competition and conventional wisdom suggest that exclusivity boosts profits. However, using both agent-based simulations and game-theoretic modeling, the authors find that positive word of mouth (WOM) from customers of rival firms can make exclusivity unprofitable. This reversal of conventional wisdom occurs because WOM creates a positive externality, and a firm holding exclusivity cannot benefit from the WOM spillover generated by customers of other firms. The benefits of forgoing exclusivity are magnified by (1) the presence of locked-in customers who consider buying from only a single firm, (2) the extent to which opinion leaders are among a firm's own locked-in customers rather than those of competitors, and (3) customers' low price sensitivity. In addition, firms sometimes benefit from forgoing exclusivity even without WOM from rivals' customers, but only when the combination of large-scale lock-in, high price sensitivity, and strong WOM among the firm's customers exists.