Proprietary Parts as a Secondary Market Strategy
Introducing proprietary parts to gain a competitive edge is a well-known, yet poorly understood strategy original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) adopt. In this paper, we consider an OEM which sells new products and competes with an independent remanufacturer (IR) selling remanufactured products. The OEM considers using proprietary parts to manage the secondary market for remanufactured products. Thereby, the OEM designs its product to balance the trade-off between the cost of proprietariness and the extra income from selling the proprietary parts to the IR. We observe that the OEM always chooses the smallest possible proportion of proprietary parts. This allows it to control the secondary market
without the need to overly adjust the price charged for new products. Deterring market entry by the IR by pricing the proprietary parts prohibitively, an OEM strategy observed in several industries, is only optimal when the willingness-to-pay for remanufactured products is low. Otherwise, the OEM benefits more from sharing the secondary market profits with the IR through the use of proprietary parts. Finally, we nd that the OEM can also use proprietary parts to strategically deter entry by the IR and discourage it from collecting the cores. This can support the OEM's decision to engage in remanufacturing even in the case of a collection cost disadvantage. We show that - counterintuitively - the OEM may take up remanufacturing in situations where the IR would not. While the introduction of proprietary parts is detrimental to both IRs and consumers, OEM remanufacturing softens this loss for the consumers.