The Toys That Made Us — Two Part Tariffs for Barbie

 

When designing the pricing model of Barbies, Mattel looked to Gillette’s pricing model for razors and razorblades, which is a form of second degree price discrimination that utilizes two part tariffs as a way of maximizing profit from group buyers. The doll (or razors) are sold at very low prices, but the accessories (or razor blades) are the main drivers of profit for the firm. This model allows the company to sell a lot of base products at near marginal cost, but then charge high prices for the accessories, which are a critical component of the overall product.

Brooklyn 99 — Risk Aversion in Air Travel

 

Boyle is going on a singles cruise and isn’t sure when to arrive at the airport. He approaches Gina with the idea of getting to the airport 5 hours early for a domestic flight (which is already too much!), but she tries to convince him he actually needs to be there 8 hours. Some people prefer to arrive at the airport extra early because they are scared they will miss their flight, but most people don’t need to arrive more than 2 hours. Later in the episode, we learn that Boyle missed his flight because of an assignment, but that he actually bought a backup flight just in case he missed it. This is perhaps an extreme version of risk aversion.

John Mulaney — Majoring in English

 

After receiving a donation request from his undergraduate university, Mulaney questions the purpose of college. After spending $120,000 to major in English, he realizes that he may not have actually gotten out of it what he thought he would (human capital), but instead received a lot of consumptive benefits. He doesn’t mention the signalling aspect of a college degree, but it’s implied through his analysis on the lack of training he received.

The Chi — Price > Marginal Cost

 

Coogie Johnson rides up to the corner store to get a grape pop and beef jerky. Habib, the store owner, tells him it’s $1.00 for the soda and $1.75 for the jerky. Coogie then tries to talk Habib down to letting him pay $0.25 for soda and pay full price for the jerky to which his son nodded in approval. Even though the retail price for the soda and the jerky are $1.00 and $1.75, respectively. Coogie knows that the soda is priced well above the marginal cost and attempts to negotiate the price down closer to the marginal cost. Habib argues that it’s not fair to charge him a different price than other customers, but the son recognizes that some profit is better than no profit and agrees to sell it to Coogie at a lower price.

Thanks to Kyle Davis for the reference.

South Park — White People Flipping Houses

 

Randy Marsh is a local contractor who flips homes in the area. His TV show, white people flipping homes, has come under bad wrap when local Confederates have decided to use his television show to protest the Amazon Echo stealing jobs in the town. Marsh takes the men to court for damages because viewers negatively associate the local Confederates with the show. He’s asked why he doesn’t change the name of his show, but he lists off a variety of other show titles that were already taken. In a monopolistically competitive market, product differentiation is essential to creating demand. Items must be substitutable, but sellers also must try to convince buyers that their product is somehow unique from the competition.

South Park — Medicinal Fried Chicken (NFSW)

 

Cartman and the gang head to KFC after soccer practice only to find out it’s been converted into a new medicinal marijuana shop. Cartman convinces his mom to drive him to a nearby town for KFC, but that show has closed as well. Cartman learns that Colorado has recently passed a bill that bans fast food in low-income areas, but it turns out KFCs were only built in low-income cities, so there are effectively no more KFCs in the state. The state government has essentially set a price ceiling for KFC in low-income areas at zero dollars. One of the predictable side effects of these price controls is a black market for the item. Items with price ceilings also tend to have inefficiently low quality. The banning of fast food causes Cartman to enter the black market to feed his KFC addiction. In later scenes, Cartman is upset because he catches a dealer cutting the KFC gravy with Boston Market gravy. When the dealer suggests he can take the gravy back, Cartman notes that no one wants fried chicken without gravy, implying the two items are complements.

Thanks to Thomas Jandora for the clip reference

South Park — Alexa is Stealing Our Jobs (NSFW)

 

 

In the episode, everybody in South Park is buying that Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant to make their lives easier, however there is a negative externality to buying the Alexa. The local low-skilled workers in their town believe that these new machines are stealing their jobs, a classic South Park catchphrase, and they start to protest. Randy Marsh, a tv show personality comes up with a solution to fix this by having the locals replace the personal assistants, but not all of the locals are happy about this.

Thanks to John Miller for the clip suggestion!

Rick and Morty — Bartering for Bread

 

The clip shows a good example of the double coincidence of wants and how a barter system is difficult to maintain. The seller of bread needs somebody to take care of his kids and the guy who can take care of his kids wants extra bread. They need what the other has and have what the other wants. The trouble is determining how much work is appropriate to get a loaf of bread and then managing the system to make sure everyone gets paid.

Thanks to Mathew Abraham for the suggestion

The Goldbergs — The Ugly Jacket

 

Beverly decides that she wants to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur and sell her own stylish jackets on QVC. She eagerly whips together several jackets and repeatedly tries to contact QVC, but she is never able to reach them. Beverly’s husband agrees to sell the jackets to the customers at his local furniture store, but he finds that this task is harder than he imagined it would be.

After selling a couch, Murray offers the customer a special half-off price on the jacket. The customer refuses, so Murray continues to lower the price until he gets to the point of offering to give the couch away if he takes the jacket, but, the costumer still refuses this offer. Will Murray is willing and able to sell the jacket, he can’t find suitable buyers who are willing to enter the market. Despite Say’s Law that supply will create demand, he is unable to find customers at even a zero price.

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