Evaluating the impact of VAT-free promotion: the role of loyalty program membership and category characteristics

Saeid Vafainia*, Els Breugelmans, Tammo H. A. Bijmolt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This study examines the impact of value-added tax (VAT)-free promotions on sales performance. VAT-free promotions are a recently adopted form of price promotions where consumers are exempted from paying the VAT amount across almost all products in the assortment during a limited number of days. They are typically organized once per year and surrounded by a large amount of media attention from the involved retailer. To test the effects of this promotion on store and category sales, and investigate the differences between loyalty program (LP) members and non-LP members, the authors use scanner data from a Dutch durable goods retailer across a range of categories. The results show that VAT-free promotions positively impact store performance. Moreover, the findings indicate that more non-LP members are attracted to the store and that they increase the amount they spend in the store. While LP members also spend more in the store, this increase in shopping basket size does not compensate for the significant drop in the number of LP members that visit the store, leading to an overall decrease in sales coming from LP members during VAT-free days. We furthermore find that the positive effect of VAT-free promotions for non-LP members (rather than LP members) generalizes across all investigated categories. Our results provide key insights for retailers and direct marketers with regard to the effectiveness of VAT-free promotions in order to strategically segment the customer base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-476
Number of pages22
JournalMarketing Letters
Early online date9-Mar-2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Value-added tax&#8211
  • free promotions
  • Retailing
  • Loyalty program membership

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