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Price‐matching guarantees

  • Sridhar Moorthy
  • Ralph A. Winter

Are price-matching guarantees anticompetitive? This paper examines the incentives for price-matching guarantees in markets where information about prices is costly. Under some conditions the conventional explanation of price-matching announcements as facilitating collusion finds support, and is even strengthened. But our model provides an additional explanation for the practice. A price-matching guarantee may be a credible and easily understood means of communicating to uninformed consumers that a firm is low-priced. The credibility of the signal to uninformed consumers is assured by the behaviour of informed consumers. We contrast the testable implications of our model with those of the anticompetitive theories and discuss supportive evidence from an illustrative sample of retailers.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1756-2171.2006.tb00025.x
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Article provided by RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 449-465

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Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:2:p:449-465
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  1. Zhiqi Chen, 1995. "How Low Is a Guaranteed-Lowest-Price?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 683-701, August.
  2. Sanford J Grossman & Joseph E Stiglitz, 1997. "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1908, David K. Levine.
  3. d'Aspremont, C & Gabszewicz, Jean Jaskold & Thisse, J-F, 1979. "On Hotelling's "Stability in Competition"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1145-50, September.
  4. Yuxin Chen & Chakravarthi Narasimhan & Z. John Zhang, 2001. "Consumer Heterogeneity and Competitive Price-Matching Guarantees," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(3), pages 300-314, June.
  5. Katz, Michael L., 1989. "Vertical contractual relations," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 655-721 Elsevier.
  6. Aaron S. Edlin & Eric R. Emch, 1998. "The Welfare Losses from Price Matching Policies," Law and Economics 9803001, EconWPA, revised 26 May 1998.
  7. Curtis Eaton, B. & Lipsey, Richard G., 1989. "Product differentiation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 723-768 Elsevier.
  8. Jacquemin, Alexis & Slade, Margaret E., 1989. "Cartels, collusion, and horizontal merger," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 415-473 Elsevier.
  9. Morten Hviid & Greg Shaffer, 1999. "Hassle Costs: The Achilles' Heel of Price-Matching Guarantees," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(4), pages 489-521, December.
  10. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
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