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Regular prices and sales

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Author Info

  • Paul Heidhues

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)

  • Botond Koszegi

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

We study the properties of a profit-maximizing monopolist's optimal price distribution when selling to a loss-averse consumer, where (following Koszegi and Rabin (2006)) we assume that the consumer's reference point is her recent rational expectations about the purchase. If it is close to costless for the consumer to observe the realized price of the product, then – in a pattern consistent with several recently documented facts regarding supermarket pricing – the monopolist chooses low and variable “sale” prices with some probability and a high and sticky “regular” price with the complementary probability. Realizing that she will buy at the sale prices and hence that she will purchase with positive probability, the consumer chooses to avoid the painful uncertainty in whether she will get the product by buying also at the regular price. If it is more costly for the consumer to observe the realized price, then – in a pattern consistent with the pricing behavior of some other retailers (e.g. movie theaters) – the monopolist chooses a sticky price and holds no sales. In this case, a sale is less tempting and hence less effective in generating an expectation to purchase with positive probability. We also show that ex-ante competition for loyal consumers leads to sticky pricing while ex-post competition leads to marginal-cost pricing, and discuss several other extensions of the model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ESMT European School of Management and Technology in its series ESMT Research Working Papers with number ESMT-10-008.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: 22 Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Theoretical Economics 9(1): 217–251.
Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-10-008

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Keywords: reference-dependent utility; gain-loss utility; loss aversion; sticky prices; sales; supermarket pricing;

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References

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  1. Jidong Zhou, 2011. "Reference Dependence and Market Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(4), pages 1073-1097, December.
  2. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth Cannot Explain Risk Aversion," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt61d7b4pg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Anil K Kashyap, 1994. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," NBER Working Papers 4855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sibly, Hugh, 2002. "Loss averse customers and price inflexibility," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 521-538, August.
  5. Emi Nakamura & Jon Steinsson, 2005. "Price Setting in a Forward-Looking Customer Market," Macroeconomics 0509010, EconWPA.
  6. Patrick J. Kehoe & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Temporary price changes and the real effects of monetary policy," Working Papers 413, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Karle, Heiko & Peitz, Martin, 2010. "Pricing and Information Disclosure in Markets with Loss-Averse Consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 7785, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2007. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," Discussion Papers 07-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  9. Nakamura, Emi & Steinsson, Jón, 2011. "Price setting in forward-looking customer markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 220-233.
  10. Slade, Margaret E., 1999. "Sticky prices in a dynamic oligopoly: An investigation of (s,S) thresholds," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 477-511, May.
  11. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  12. Shilony, Yuval, 1977. "Mixed pricing in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 373-388, April.
  13. Winer, Russell S, 1986. " A Reference Price Model of Brand Choice for Frequently Purchased Products," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 250-56, September.
  14. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Customer anger at price increases, changes in the frequency of price adjustment and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 829-852, May.
  15. James M. MacDonald & Daniel Aaronson, 2006. "How Firms Construct Price Changes: Evidence from Restaurant Responses to Increased Minimum Wages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 292-307.
  16. Martin Pesendorfer, 2002. "Retail Sales: A Study of Pricing Behavior in Supermarkets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75(1), pages 33-66, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," NBER Working Papers 16911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pagel, Michaela, 2013. "Expectations-Based Reference-Dependent Life-Cycle Consumption," MPRA Paper 47138, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Nakamura, Emi & Steinsson, Jón, 2011. "Price setting in forward-looking customer markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 220-233.
  4. Alexander K. Koch, & Julia Nafziger & Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2012. "Self-Rewards and Personal Motivation," Economics Working Papers 2012-14, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.

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