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Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet

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  • Glenn Ellison
  • Sara Fisher Ellison

Abstract

We examine the competition between a group of Internet retailers who operate in an environment where a price search engine plays a dominant role. We show that for some products in this environment, the easy price search makes demand tremendously price-sensitive. Retailers, though, engage in obfuscation-practices that frustrate consumer search or make it less damaging to firms-resulting in much less price sensitivity on some other products. We discuss several models of obfuscation and examine its effects on demand and markups empirically. Copyright 2009 The Econometric Society.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 77 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (03)
Pages: 427-452

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:2:p:427-452

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  1. Michael D. Smith & Erik Brynjolfsson, 2001. "Consumer Decision-making at an Internet Shopbot: Brand Still Matters," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 541-558 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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