Tuesday 24 February 2015

Parallel importing Economist

Why is The Economist more expensive in New Zealand?
The simple answer is price discrimination. If readers in New Zealand are willing to pay more for subscriptions to The Economist than are readers in Canada, then prices will vary across markets – unless there is a way for consumers in the cheaper market to on-sell to those in the pricier markets, or for those in the expensive markets to pretend to be in the cheaper market.
Fortunately, you can parallel import The Economist simply by providing a Canadian billing address.
Price discrimination does not work when consumers in the higher cost market can easily access the lower cost market. New Zealand’s parallel importation regime helps to break international price discrimination that too often works to the detriment of Kiwi consumers.

I have not seen any study on it. But I would be willing to bet that New Zealand’s parallel importation regime has done more to help Kiwi consumers than has anything that the Commerce Commission has ever done. It is very likely our most effective competition-enhancing institution.
That was me reprising parallel importation and price discrimination in last week's print edition of the National Business Review. Subscribe!


  1. Very nice. Although presumably measures aimed at preventing Kiwi consumers from paying more than a comparable country for the same good would result in lower returns to the producer and lower investment (at the margin anyway - NZ isn't the biggest market in the world)?

    And how do I get my print copy of the Economist delivered at Canadian prices?

  2. Or if you are in Wellington and a member of Wellington City Library you can log in to Zinio via the library website and read the digital copy free.

  3. That's harder - you'd need a mail forwarder in Canada to help out and I'm guessing it'll eat up more than the price difference.

    Agree that price discrimination on the whole can be beneficial. Doesn't mean that those stuck in the high-paying side oughtn't chisel though.