Product bundling

Product bundling
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Product bundling is a marketing strategy that involves offering several products for sale as one combined product. This strategy is very common in the software business (for example: bundle a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a database into a single office suite), in the cable television industry (for example, basic cable in the United States generally offers many channels at one price), and in the fast food industry in which multiple items are combined into a complete meal. A bundle of products is sometimes referred to as a package deal or a compilation or an anthology.

Bundling is most successful when:

  • There are economies of scale in production,
  • There are economies of scope in distribution,
  • Marginal costs of bundling are low.
  • production set-up costs are high,
  • Customer acquisition costs are high.
  • Consumers appreciate the resulting simplification of the purchase decision and benefit from the joint performance of the combined product.
  • Consumers have heterogeneous demands and such demands for different parts of the bundle product are inversely correlated. For example, assume consumer A values word processor at $100 and spreadsheet processor at $60, while consumer B values word processor at $60 and spreadsheet at $100. Seller can generate maximum revenue of only $240 by setting $60 price for each product—both consumers will buy both products. Revenue cannot be increased without bundling because as seller increases the price above $60 for one of the goods, one of the consumers will refuse to buy it. With bundling, seller can generate revenue of $320 by bundling the products together and selling the bundle at $160.

Product bundling is most suitable for high volume and high margin (i.e., low marginal cost) products. Research by Yannis Bakos and Erik Brynjolfsson found that bundling was particularly effective for digital "information goods" with close to zero marginal cost, and could enable a bundler with an inferior collection of products to drive even superior quality goods out of the market place.[1][2]

In oligopolistic and monopolistic industries, product bundling can be seen as an unfair use of market power because it limits the choices available to the consumer. In these cases it is typically called product tying.

Venkatesh and Mahajan (2009) review the research on bundle design and pricing in their book chapter.

Pure bundling occurs when a consumer can only purchase the entire bundle or nothing, mixed bundling occurs when consumers are offered a choice between the purchasing the entire bundle or one of the separate parts of the bundle.

Pure bundling can be further divided into two cases: in joint bundling, the two products are offered together for one bundled price, and, in leader bundling, a leader product is offered for discount if purchased with a non-leader product. Mixed-leader bundling is a variant of leader bundling with the added possibility of buying the leader product on its own.

Bundling in political economy is a type of product bundling in which the product is a candidate in an election who markets his bundle of attributes and positions to the voters.

In peer-to-peer swarming systems for content dissemination, such as BitTorrent, bundling consists of disseminating multiple files together in a single swarm. Empirical evidence and analytical models indicate that bundling improves content availability in those systems.[3] Both pure and mixed bundling are supported by BitTorrent.

See also


  1. ^ Bakos, Yannis; Brynjolfsson, Erik (1999). "Bundling Information Goods: Pricing, Profits, and Efficiency". Management Science 45 (12): 1613–1630. JSTOR 2634781. 
  2. ^ Bakos, Yannis; Brynjolfsson, Erik (2000). "Bundling and Competition on the Internet". Marketing Science 19 (1): 63–82. JSTOR 193259. 
  3. ^ D. Menasche, A. Rocha, B. Li, D. Towsley, A. Venkataramani. "Content Availability and Bundling in Swarming Systems". 

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