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Pricing to Signal Product Line Quality

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  • Kyle Bagwell

Abstract

This paper offers a general characterization of the optimal product line prices for a monopolist whose quality of products is initially unknown to consumers. In the focal equilibrium, a monopolist signals a high-quality product line by pricing as if quality were known to be high, but costs of production were higher than they truly are. In a rich set of environments, this characterization implies that the prices of all products are initially distorted upward, with the price distortion being largest for products with the most inelastic demands and/or quality-sensitive production costs. These implications yield predictions for the time path of prices that are broadly consistent with evidence from the marketing literature. The multidimensional signaling problem is made tractable by the satisfaction of a very simple and powerful single crossing property. Copyright 1992 by MIT Press.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 921.

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Date of creation: Feb 1991
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:921

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  1. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1988. "Advertising and Limit Pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 59-71, Spring.
  3. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Bagwell, Kyle, 1991. "Optimal Export Policy for a New-Product Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1156-69, December.
  5. Gerard J. Tellis & Birger Wernerfelt, 1987. "Competitive Price and Quality Under Asymmetric Information," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 6(3), pages 240-253.
  6. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1998. "Sequential Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 237, David K. Levine.
  7. Bagwell, Kyle & Ramey, Garey, 1990. "Advertising and pricing to deter or accommodate entry when demand is unknown," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 93-113.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Marc Auboin & Michele Ruta, 2012. "The Relationship between Exchange Rates and International Trade: A Literature Review," CESifo Working Paper Series 3868, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Communicating quality: a unified model of disclosure and signalling," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 973-989.
  3. Menzler-Hokkanen, Ingeborg & Spinanger, Dean, 1993. "On the quality of quality measures in international trade," Kiel Working Papers 587, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  4. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Products Liability, Signaling and Disclosure," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 164(1), pages 106-126, March.
  5. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Santanu Roy, 2007. "Signaling Quality through Prices in an Oligopoly," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-081/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Santanu Roy, 2007. "Signaling Quality through Prices in an Oligopoly," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-081/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Daughety, Andrew F. & Reinganum, Jennifer F., 2007. "Competition and confidentiality: Signaling quality in a duopoly when there is universal private information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 94-120, January.
  8. Menzler-Hokkanen, Ingeborg & Langhammer, Rolf J., 1994. "Product and country substitution in imports : an empirical comparison of theoretical concepts," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 1599, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  9. Jennifer F. Reinganum & Andrew F. Daughety, 2004. "Secrecy and Safety," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 53, Econometric Society.
  10. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2005. "Imperfect Competition and Quality Signaling," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0520, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  11. Clements, Matthew T., 2011. "Low quality as a signal of high quality," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 5(5), pages 1-22.
  12. Thomas, Louis & Shane, Scott & Weigelt, Keith, 1998. "An empirical examination of advertising as a signal of product quality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 415-430, December.
  13. Cesaltina Pacheco Pires & Margarida Catalão-Lopes, 2011. "Signaling advertising by multiproduct firms," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 403-425, May.

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