Grey Marketing And Parallel Imports Economics Essay

Parallel trade or Gray market is a growing business that keeps growing in most underdeveloped and expanding countries today. This paper looks into the issues surrounding the grey market such as its impact on individuals and the manufacturers combined with the advantages and disadvantages of such a market thriving inside a locality. Additionally the research also looks into the future potential customers of parallel trade along with the primary reasons for its existence.


Grey marketing or parallel importing basically refers to the distribution or offering of products and goods that happen to be trademarked to the clients with no express acceptance or knowledge of the original manufacturers consent through unauthorized distribution channels. These types of markets aren't classified as unlawful marketplaces as they products and goods are not physically taken but are actually original items. The only concern is that what sort of products are being sold is not actually approved of by the manufacturers. These goods and products can be termed to be illegal only if they violate either the merchandise regulations or the licensing agreement of the original manufacturer.

The major reason for the lifestyle of such a market is the price differential that prevails in two different market segments. For example, the higher resale potential of a product in an alternative market is what drives the presence of such market. The price differential between two markets give an opportunity for the merchandise to be bought in a location where it is relatively cheaper and sold at a noticeably higher prices where in fact the product is unavailable (Engardio et al. , 1988). There are certain other factors which lead to grey marketing, such as:

1. When the original goods have place a performance, price channel, and market recognition that ensure demand and reduce consumer education.

2. A lack of concentration by the certified channel in the markets. A specific product might not be available in market which forces the consumers to consider alternative ways to acquire the product. Folks who are involved in grey marketing could see the imbalance of source and demand as an possibility to make income.

3. A substantial change in the tendencies of the consumers which might lead to an increased demand for lower priced products which may be accelerated by the governmental procedures (Mathur, 1995).

In a global framework however, it will have a unforeseen impact on the branding and brand equity. However, it can lead to a upsurge in the market share of the products and also supports penetrating a shut down market (Mitchell, 1998). This sort of markets provides access to parallel trades wherein products that are protected by a patent or hallmark are generally purchased lawfully from the store and which is then exported to another country minus the authorization of the neighborhood manufacturer of the original product (Maskus, 2000b). Parallel imports mainly happen due to international price differences which could in turn be caused credited to price discrimination, national distinctions in governmental price controls or vertical prices restraints. One of the main areas where parallel imports are heatedly debated is in the pharmaceutical sector. Parallel imports is seen across the world among the European Union countries the United States etc.

Losses anticipated to gray marketing

Grey marketing and parallel imports also can be seen in the service areas such as Telecom areas, Health industry etc. Actually relating to (Philip, 2005), the Indian telecom sector has incurred losses amounting to Rupees 458 crores since 1998. Corresponding to data published by the department, over 60 % of the earnings deficits have been reported from Delhi and Maharashtra, with violations to the tune of Rs 290 crores. Gray market frauds around Rs 60 crores had been documented in Andhra Pradesh, accompanied by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat at Rs 36 crores, Rs 35 crores and Rs 15 crores respectively. These six areas also accounted for over 95 % of revenue losses through illegitimate telecom set-ups, the Dept of Telecom added.

Parallel trade can be extensively observed in the cellular phone market. It all began with the emergence os the GSM international standard in 1990 and the telephones could be utilized anywhere in the earth prompting a rise in the demand for cell phones in markets where cellphone manufacturers still hadn't ventured into which in turn increased how big is the parallel market. Relating to (Sugden, 2009), about 30% of the mobile phones traded are sold through a gray market which statistics continue being increasing. That is about 500, 000 cell phones which can be bought and sold through unofficial programs each day. A good example of this is in the case of Apple iphones. They were released in select markets only. However, due to their popularity, these were in huge demand in other countries, where the consumers experienced no choice but to either procure it from a grey market trader or wait for the business to officially start their products in that country.

Theory of Parallel imports

Parallel imports have an effect on a variety of industries, distributing from traditional luxury and brand- name consumer products (wines, cams, and wristwatches) to commercial products. Industry sources estimate that parallel imports account for 10% of IBMs Laptop or computer sales, 20% of Sharps copier sales, and 20% to 30% of the world makeup products and fragrances sales (Ahmadi and Yang, 1995). Belgium, for example, even though it has no vehicle mobile industry is a major car exporter in European countriesmore than 25, 000 cars some years. This export success account is because cars are cheaper in Belgium than in near by countries, credited to tax distinctions (Weigand 1991).

Another trend associated with parallel imports, is that this has improved from in essence a U. S. problem in the 1980s into a global -wide trend in the 90s (Ahmadi and Yang, 1995). If the U. S. dollar was strong, during the 1981-1986 period, the amount of vehicles purchased in European countries by U. S. vacationers grew 2, 000%. In 1986 the total value of products sent out through unauthorized programs in the U. S. reached a top of $10 billion (Palia and Keown, 1991). This direction was reversed in succeeding years as other parts of the world, especially Asia and European countries, experienced rapid appreciation in their currencies and a corresponding surge of parallel imports (Ahmadi and Yang, 1995). A 1991 survey of U. S. exporters to Asia proved that 41% of 141 respondents reported having problems with parallel imports in the past five years (Palia and Keown 1991). In 1990 pharmaceutical parallel imports in the Western european Community stood at $500 million (Lynn 1991, quoted in Ahmadi and Yang, 1995, p. 3). In an increasingly integrated world, the total annual growth rate of parallel imports has been predicted to be 22%, which is expected to go up as new trade agreements, like NAFTA and GATT, further lower trade barriers across nations.

There are essentially two explanations why parallel imports appear in international markets. The parallel import or grey market prevails because foreign manufacturers practice price discrimination among countries and greyish market sellers arbitrage these price distinctions. Second, parallel importers are more efficient than authorized retailers because parallel imports contend with the goods of authorized sellers, in turn leading to lower prices that are beneficial to consumers.

Those favoring parallel imports dispute that international price discrimination restrict competition to the disadvantage of consumers in countries having higher prices. They state that parallel imports foster competition and efficiency, thus benefiting consumers in importing countries. Some researchers argue that, although it is clear that effective parallel imports cannot can be found without price differentials between countries, the source of the differentials is nearly so noticeable (Weigand, 1991). Based on the type of goods involved and the character of the market for the product, price differentials could possibly be the result of a number of factors, ranging from honest enterprise, such as a diverter who calls for advantage of beneficial foreign currency exchange rates and engages in a sort of product arbitrage, to a supplier who tries to discriminate by price in several (usually foreign) marketplaces.

Therefore, in respect of the procedure of parallel imports, there is absolutely no end to the imaginative ways used to bring parallel imports to market. Four methods, however, symbolize the bulk of market imports and are target of a lot of the monetary and legal attention. First, are those products made international by for example American businesses (see Physique 1). These foreign items may be subsidiaries, joint venture companies, or various other entity which have a commonality of passions with the American company. This foreign affiliate marketing may sell to near by authorized distributors, for example, a French company. Somewhere in the official channel, however, circulation control is lost and the product enters an unauthorized route and some of computer is exported back to america. Here it competes with identical domestically produced products.

A second method (depicted by Body 2) of parallel importing is whenever a foreign manufacturer (e. g. German) licenses a firm to be the exclusive importer of a product bearing a overseas name or hallmark.

Impact of Parallel Trade

There are lots of effects of all this parallel importing activity. Here, the predicaments and opportunities created by these parallel circulation channels are discussed in greater detail.

First, consumers may be prejudiced against buying products which were parallel brought in because sometimes they can not be properly serviced or preserved. They also may be worried that the so-called technological requirements for certain products may not met by gray importers. It needs to be produced clear that parallel imports aren't counterfeits but genuine products that tend to be sold at a lower price to consumers than these written by regular channels (Ahmadi and Yang, 1995). However, these may well not necessarily have a lesser profit margin because they can free trip on the promotional efforts of authorized sellers.

Consequently parallel imports may undermine certified dealers selling work. For instance, by discouraging their investment in a sales-force or shelf-space.

Advantages and Cons of parallel importing

Parallel imports promote free trade, encourage healthy competition and become price levelers. Non program of parallel importation may lead to complete control in circulation channels thereby perpetuating monopolies (Ashwini, 2006). Hence request is vital to minimize monopolistic effect of the guidelines of the multinational businesses who make an effort to control distribution channels. The biggest beneficiaries of parallel imports will be the ultimate consumers who have the good thing about buying genuine goods made by another licensee, offered under an genuine draw at a lower rate.

However, parallel transfer often increases serious issues of unfair competition and piggy backing which refers to the look at by the parallel importer to encash the goodwill fostered by the owner to market their grey products. Concerns of quality of the goods also arise when the gray goods have been made for some other market comprising different tastes and demands. The recycleables used may also be from geographically different areas straight affecting the buyer health. Furthermore, the related guarantees and after sales maintenance services attached with the goods may vary for the various regions.

Future of Parallel Imports

The trend towards globalization of markets, which is being facilitated by the development of a global communication system, envisages the end to domestic territoriality because of global competition. Due to the quickness of new solutions and communication trends, parallel importation may be a short-term occurrence.

The effects of globalization on parallel importation are two folds. First, as trade barriers between nations decrease, it will become more difficult to execute price discrimination regulations based on country restrictions. Implicitly, parallel merchants are therefore more likely to gradually fade away, as there will be fewer opportunities for arbitrage. The issue of parallel importation may therefore become less significant as globalization goes on.

Secondly, typically, under international regulation, nations have asserted sovereignty based mostly upon the territory that they legitimately control. Improvements in electronic marketing communications, including the Internet, however, have begun to change this. This development suggests that, alternatively than sovereignty based on territory, sovereignty will be based on information flows or economical spheres of effect will become typical in cyberspace. This hypothesized transfer will however, require a re-evaluation of present legal doctrines, which may re-establish parallel imports legality.

Nevertheless, when the world economy becomes a lot more globally integrated, which is likely in a digitally founded economy, it becomes necessary to harmonize the different transactional rules between nations. This means coverage co-ordination among different governments is a critical part of attaining this (Rothnie, 1993).

Measures to fight parallel trade

Grey markets are not looked down after by many market sectors primarily because they're benefitted by the increase of vulnerability with their products in new economies. Therefore parallel trade is a delicate issue which concern is something that may be most effectively combated against by the companys themselves. There are certain safeguards an organization can take to monitor products final places, such as:

1. Level Control: The best way to control the gray market syndication is to monitor the supply chain of something and keep tabs on its normal quantities on a monthly basis. Furthermore, this data should be cross inspected with the import and export information which are kept by the countries trade organizations (Palia, 1991).

2. Auditing: Proper auditing would ensure that a company can identify whether or not its products are being diverted in one country to another.

3. Different Presentation: This technique has already been being used by some manufacturers. Utilizing this system can lead to an increase in the over head costs of processing the product however the ability to segregate the markets via a differentiated product or with a adjustable packaging is a viable response to prevent diversion and gray market using its own products.

4. RFID: Using radio occurrence recognition a risk tracking system can be implemented which would be inexpensive and such something can flag a product by its code if it is diverted.

5. Federal government legislations: Government authorities can bolster up their hallmark and copyright functions which aids in preventing the flow of products which can be trademarked. Stricter laws need to be formalized and these laws and regulations also need to be properly enforced to ensure that grey market activity is curtailed if not quit completely (Lewin, 1986).


Grey market is a flourishing world from all the data presented up to now. With globalization and progression in the technology and decrease in trade obstacles, parallel transfer market has progressively been growing especially in the producing countries where demand far outpaces supply. Up to now it has been a little sized market however it has grown significantly, in the past decade roughly, due to diminish in the deal costs across the world, penetration of internet leading to cross border commerce and products harmonization.

There are clear advantages to the finish customers because of the occurrence of parallel imports generally due to the fact that it opens up the avenue for them to a huge international market. Therefore the people aren't complaining about the existence of such market in their midst. However, the key entities who are hurt due to the presence of such a market are the administration and manufacturers both of them losing a big amount in income that is actually supposed to go to them from taxes and income respectively. Therefore the impact on the consumers is negligible except in instances when there vis a mistake with the merchandise and the client cannot have it checked or substituted since he/she bought it out of warrantee. Overall, it appears to be benefiting people more than harming them.

Furthermore, I think that the global gray market scenario will certainly reduce in its size by itself primarily scheduled to increasing globalization. Together with the get spread around of internet and the presence of global marketing companys are making products you can use all over the world. Therefore the risk of inadvertently buying something that would not be functional in a specific geographical devote decreasing daily. Moreover, with couriers like DHL and UPS, it has turned into a fairly routine habit to purchase products or source them from a different country. Therefore, its impact will slowly be eroded because trade obstacles will become non existent and folks are increasing more knowledge day by day and they are becoming self alert to all the options.

Besides this even organizations have a tendency to keep noiseless about their products being sold at places not chosen by them as it increases their exposure in new marketplaces.


The organizations can take a few steps if they want to prevent such grey market segments by:

Ensuring that the existing regulations are being honored totally throughout the source chain.

Building a tamper facts presentation solution which would be hard to duplicate and which would be easily identifiable to a consumer indicating its legal status.

The governments can take the next steps to safeguard against thriving of such a market:

The federal government must formally seek advice from with all stakeholders, i. e. manufacturers, in order to get their thoughts and opinions on the impact of such a market on them.

They must encourage and encourage its residents against purchasing products through this market. The harmful effects of such a conclusion should be propagate about locally especially regarding greyish market related to pharmaceuticals.

Parallel traders must also:

Cooperate in adding an end to the practice of de-boxing, and move instead to over-box the un-tampered product to ensure integrity of the remedies.

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