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Prominence and consumer search

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  • Mark Armstrong
  • John Vickers
  • Jidong Zhou

Abstract

This article examines the implications of prominence in search markets. We model prominence by supposing that the prominent firm will be sampled first by all consumers. If there are no systematic quality differences among firms, we find that the prominent firm will charge a lower price than its less prominent rivals. Making a firm prominent will typically lead to higher industry profit but lower consumer surplus and welfare. The model is extended by introducing heterogeneous product qualities, in which case the firm with the highest-quality product has the greatest incentive to become prominent, and making it prominent will boost industry profit, consumer surplus, and welfare. Copyright (c) 2009, RAND.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by RAND Corporation in its journal The RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 209-233

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Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:40:y:2009:i:2:p:209-233

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  1. Weitzman, Martin L, 1979. "Optimal Search for the Best Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 641-54, May.
  2. Liran Einav & Leeat Yariv, 2006. "What's in a Surname? The Effects of Surname Initials on Academic Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 175-187, Winter.
  3. Ali HortaƧ Su & Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, And Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of S&P 500 Index Funds," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 403-456, May.
  4. Susan Athey & Glenn Ellison, 2007. "Position Auctions with Consumer Search," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001633, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "THE POWER OF SUGGESTION: INERTIA IN 401(k) PARTICIPATION AND SAVINGS BEHAVIOR," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187, November.
  6. Robert, Jacques & Stahl, Dale O, II, 1993. "Informative Price Advertising in a Sequential Search Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 657-86, May.
  7. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
  8. Maria Arbatskaya, 2007. "Ordered search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 119-126, 03.
  9. Simon P. Anderson & Regis Renault, 1999. "Pricing, product diversity, and search costs: a Bertrand-Chamberlin-Diamond model," Virginia Economics Online Papers 335, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  10. Wolinsky, Asher, 1986. "True Monopolistic Competition as a Result of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 493-511, August.
  11. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  12. Bagwell, Kyle & Ramey, Garey, 1994. "Coordination Economies, Advertising, and Search Behavior in Retail Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 498-517, June.
  13. Perry, Motty & Wigderson, Avi, 1986. "Search in a Known Pattern," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 225-30, February.
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