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Comparative advertising: disclosing horizontal match information


  • Simon P. Anderson
  • Régis Renault


Improved consumer information about horizontal aspects of products of similar quality leads to better consumer matching but also to higher prices, so consumer surplus can go up or down, while profits rise. With enough quality asymmetry, though, the higher-quality (and hence larger) firm's price falls with more information, so both effects benefit consumers. This occurs when comparative advertising is used against a large firm by a small one. Comparative advertising, as it imparts more information, therefore helps consumers. Although it also improves the profitability of the small firm, overall welfare goes down because of the large loss to the attacked firm. Copyright (c) 2009, RAND..

Suggested Citation

  • Simon P. Anderson & Régis Renault, 2009. "Comparative advertising: disclosing horizontal match information," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(3), pages 558-581.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:40:y:2009:i:3:p:558-581

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon P. Anderson & Régis Renault, 2006. "Advertising Content," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 93-113, March.
    2. Anderson, Simon P & de Palma, Andre, 2001. "Product Diversity in Asymmetric Oligopoly: Is the Quality of Consumer Goods Too Low?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 113-135, June.
    3. Caplin, Andrew & Nalebuff, Barry, 1991. "Aggregation and Imperfect Competition: On the Existence of Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 25-59, January.
    4. Gene M. Grossman & Carl Shapiro, 1984. "Informative Advertising with Differentiated Products," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 63-81.
    5. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-483, December.
    6. Meurer, Michael & Stahl, Dale II, 1994. "Informative advertising and product match," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-19, March.
    7. Harrington, Joseph Jr. & Hess, Gregory D., 1996. "A Spatial Theory of Positive and Negative Campaigning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 209-229, December.
    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. Nelson, Philip, 1974. "Advertising as Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 729-754, July/Aug..
    10. Simon P. Anderson & Regis Renault, 1999. "Pricing, Product Diversity, and Search Costs: A Bertrand-Chamberlin-Diamond Model," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(4), pages 719-735, Winter.
    11. Debora Viana Thompson & Rebecca W. Hamilton, 2006. "The Effects of Information Processing Mode on Consumers' Responses to Comparative Advertising," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(4), pages 530-540, March.
    12. Shin Hyun Song, 1994. "The Burden of Proof in a Game of Persuasion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 253-264, October.
    13. Anderson, Simon P & Renault, Regis, 2000. "Consumer Information and Firm Pricing: Negative Externalities from Improved Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 721-742, August.
    14. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
    15. Gerard R. Butters, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 465-491.
    16. Simon P. Anderson & André De Palma, 1988. "Spatial Price Discrimination with Heterogeneous Products," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 573-592.
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    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising


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