Gray marketing phenomena in global supply chains: Can pricing strategies help?

Lei XU, Tsan-Ming CHOI*, Xiaoran SHI, Chi ZHOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Nowadays, gray marketing is a critical issue in global supply chain management. In this paper, we analytically study how authorized incumbent retailers can use pricing to prevent unauthorized parties from entering and establishing gray markets. We consider the case in which an authorized retailer can choose from three pricing strategies, namely: myopic, proactive, and reactive. The authorized incumbent retailer in the high-end market faces consumers with higher willingness to pay (WTP). We investigate the entry conditions for an entrant retailer to establish a gray market under the three pricing strategies and provide a succinct analytical framework to segment the high-end market explicitly in terms of entry conditions. We identify the deterrence outcomes in each segmented market, and determine when each pricing strategy is optimal in the segmented markets. We theoretically reveal that whether deterring or allowing unauthorized entry is optimal depends on the entrant retailer's purchasing cost and the degree of consumers’ WTP differentiation between the authorized and unauthorized products. When consumers have a high WTP in the high-end market and the incumbent retailer has a high purchasing cost, the entrant retailer is more likely to enter the high-end market. Although the reactive pricing strategy is the most flexible one, followed by the proactive and myopic pricing strategies, the adoption of a relatively flexible pricing strategy cannot always completely deter unauthorized entry. Counterintuitively, ignoring the threat of unauthorized entry by adopting a myopic pricing strategy is the optimal choice for the incumbent authorized retailer, followed by the proactive and reactive pricing strategies. In addition, our results highlight that the choice to adopt a more flexible pricing strategy to deter unauthorized entry may lead to a “winner's curse” instead of a “winner-takes-all” outcome. Moreover, allowing unauthorized entry into the supply chain is by no means a “win–win” game. To show the robustness of findings, various extended analyses are conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103541
Number of pages27
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Early online date14 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This research was supported in part by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72172148, 72261147707), and “Chunhui Plan” Cooperative Research Project of Ministry of Education of China (Grant No. HZKY20220596).


  • Entry deterrence
  • Game-theoretical analyses
  • Gray market
  • Pricing strategy
  • Supply chain management


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