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Consumer Search and Double Marginalization

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  • Maarten Janssen
  • Sandro Shelegia

Abstract

The well-known double marginalization problem understates the inefficiencies arising from vertical relations in consumer search markets where consumers are uninformed about the wholesale prices charged by manufacturers to retailers. Consumer search provides a monopoly manufacturer with an additional incentive to increase its price, worsening the double marginalization problem and lowering the manufacturer's profits. Nevertheless, manufacturers in more competitive wholesale markets may not have an incentive to reveal their prices to consumers. We show that retail prices decrease in search cost, and so both industry profits and consumer surplus increase in search cost. (JEL D11, D42, D83, L12, L25, L60, L81)

Suggested Citation

  • Maarten Janssen & Sandro Shelegia, 2015. "Consumer Search and Double Marginalization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1683-1710, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:6:p:1683-1710
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20121317
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Haizhen Lin & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2013. "Search and Prices in the Medigap Insurance Market," Working Papers 2013-15, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    2. Stefan Buehler & Dennis L. Gärtner, 2013. "Making Sense of Nonbinding Retail-Price Recommendations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 335-359, February.
    3. Maarten Janssen & Paul Pichler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2011. "Oligopolistic markets with sequential search and production cost uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 444-470, September.
    4. Dmitry Lubensky, 2011. "A Model of Recommended Retail Prices," Working Papers 2011-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    5. Fishman, A., 1995. "Search with Learning and Price Adjustment Dynamics," Papers 18-95, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
    6. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687.
    7. Arthur Fishman, 1996. "Search with Learning and Price Adjustment Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 253-268.
    8. Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "True Monopolistic Competition as a Result of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 493-511.
    9. Ambarish Chandra & Mariano Tappata, 2011. "Consumer search and dynamic price dispersion: an application to gasoline markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(4), pages 681-704, December.
    10. Maarten Janssen & Alexei Parakhonyak, 2014. "Consumer search markets with costly revisits," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(2), pages 481-514, February.
    11. Roland Bénabou & Robert Gertner, 1993. "Search with Learning from Prices: Does Increased Inflationary Uncertainty Lead to Higher Markups?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 69-93.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Moraga-González, José L. & Sándor, Zsolt & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2014. "Prices, Product Differentiation, And Heterogeneous Search Costs," IESE Research Papers D/1097, IESE Business School.
    2. Babur De los Santos & In Kyung Kim & Dmitry Lubensky, 2013. "Do MSRPs Decrease Prices?," Working Papers 2013-13, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    3. repec:bla:randje:v:48:y:2017:i:1:p:125-146 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:indorg:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:162-182 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Maarten Janssen & Sandro Shelegia, 2015. "Beliefs and Consumer Search," Vienna Economics Papers 1501, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    6. Dmitry Lubensky, 2011. "A Model of Recommended Retail Prices," Working Papers 2011-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    7. Tobias Gamp & Daniel Kraehmer, 2018. "Deception and Competition in Search Markets," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_014_2018, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    8. Eeva Mauring, 2017. "Informational Cycles in Search Markets," Vienna Economics Papers 1708, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    9. Rhodes, Andrew & Watanabe, Makoto & Zhou, Jidong, 2017. "Multiproduct Intermediaries and Optimal Product Range," MPRA Paper 82136, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Soetevent, Adriaan R. & Bruzikas, Tadas, 2016. "Risk and Loss Aversion, Price Uncertainty and the Implications for Consumer Search," Research Report 16015-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    11. José Luis Moraga-González & Zsolt Sándor & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2017. "Prices and heterogeneous search costs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 48(1), pages 125-146, March.
    12. Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Parakhonyak, Alexei & Parakhonyak, Anastasia, 2017. "Non-reservation price equilibria and consumer search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 120-162.
    13. Garcia, Daniel & Janssen, Maarten, 2018. "Retail channel management in consumer search markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 162-182.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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