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Attention-driven demand for bonus contracts

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  • Dertwinkel-Kalt, Markus
  • Köster, Mats
  • Peiseler, Florian

Abstract

In many markets supply contracts include a series of small, regular payments made by consumers and a single, large bonus that consumers receive at some point during the contractual period. But, if for instance its production costs exceed its value to consumers, such a bonus creates inefficiencies. We offer a novel explanation for the frequent occurrence of bonus contracts, which builds on a model of attentional focusing. Our main result identifies market conditions under which bonus contracts should be observed: while a monopolist pays a bonus to consumers—if at all—only for low-value goods, firms standing in competition always—i.e., independent of the consumers’ valuation—offer bonus contracts. Thus, competition does not eliminate but rather exacerbates inefficiencies arising from contracting with focused agents. Common contract schemes in markets for electricity, telephony, and bank accounts are consistent with our model, but cannot be reconciled with alternative approaches such as models on consumption smoothing, (quasi-)hyperbolic discounting, or switching costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Dertwinkel-Kalt, Markus & Köster, Mats & Peiseler, Florian, 2019. "Attention-driven demand for bonus contracts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 1-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:115:y:2019:i:c:p:1-24
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2019.02.007
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    1. Johannes Johnen, 2019. "Automatic‐renewal contracts with heterogeneous consumer inertia," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 765-786, November.
    2. Markus Dertwinkel-Kalt & Holger Gerhardt & Gerhard Riener & Frederik Schwerter & Louis Strang, 2021. "Concentration Bias in Intertemporal Choice," CESifo Working Paper Series 9011, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Attention; Focusing; Bonus contracts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General

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