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Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice


  • Daniel S. Putler

    (Economic Research Service, USDA and Purdue University)


Although there has been a good deal of research on incorporating the effects of reference price formation into empirical models of consumer buying behavior, little formal theoretical work had been undertaken to date. This paper incorporates reference price effects into the traditional economic theory of consumer choice, and examines the effects of reference price formation on the results of the traditional theory, its marketing implications, and the implications for empirical models which examine the effects of reference price formation on actual consumer behavior. Several implications of the theoretical model are empirically tested using weekly retail egg sales data from Southern California. This analysis indicates that reference price formation does have significant effects on consumer behavior. Furthermore, these effects are asymmetric with consumers two and a half times more responsive to egg price increases that are in excess of the reference price than they are to comparable egg price decreases.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Putler, 1992. "Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 287-309.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:11:y:1992:i:3:p:287-309
    DOI: 10.1287/mksc.11.3.287

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