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Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation

  • Wilson, Chris M.

This paper demonstrates the incentives for an oligopolist to obfuscate by deliberately increasing the cost with which consumers can locate its product and price. Consumers are allowed to choose the optimal order in which to search firms and firms are able to influence this order through their choice of search costs and prices. Competition does not ensure market transparency -- equilibrium search costs are positive and asymmetric across firms. Intuitively, an obfuscating firm can soften the competition for consumers with low time costs by inducing the remaining consumers to optimally first search its rival.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 28 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 496-506

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Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:28:y:2010:i:5:p:496-506
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  16. Haan, Marco A. & Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose L., 2009. "Advertising for attention in a consumer search model," IESE Research Papers D/794, IESE Business School.
  17. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
  18. Ireland, Norman J, 1993. "The Provision of Information in a Bertrand Oligopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 61-76, March.
  19. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
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