Competitive Pricing Behavior in the Auto Market: A Structural Analysis
In a competitive marketplace, the effectiveness of any element of the marketing mix is determined not only by its absolute value, but also by its relative value with respect to the competition. For example, the effectiveness of a price cut in increasing demand is critically related to competitors' reaction to the price change. Managers therefore need to know the nature of competitive interactions among firms. In this paper, we take a theory-driven empirical approach to gain a deeper understanding of the competitive pricing behavior in the U.S. auto market. The ability-motivation paradigm posits that a firm needs both the ability and the motivation to succeed in implementing a strategy (Boulding and Staelin 1995). We use arguments from the game-theoretic literature to understand firm motivation and abilities in different segments of the auto market. We then combine these insights from the game-theoretic literature and the ability-motivation paradigm to develop hypotheses about competition in different segments of the U.S. auto market. To test our hypotheses of competitive behavior, we estimate a structural model that disentangles the competition effect from the demand and cost effects on prices. The theory of repeated games predicts that firms with a long-run profitability objective will try to sustain cooperative pricing behavior as a stable equilibrium when conditions permit. For example, markets with high concentration and stable market environments are favorable for sustaining cooperative behavior and therefore provide firms with the to cooperate. The theory of switching costs suggests that in markets in which a firm's current customers tend to be loyal, firms have a to compete very aggressively for new customers, recognizing the positive benefits of loyalty from the customer base in the long run. As consumer loyalty in the market increases, the gains from increasing market share by means of aggressive competitive behavior are more than offset by losses in profit margins. Firms therefore have the to price cooperatively. Empirically, we find aggressive behavior in the minicom-pact and subcompact segments, cooperative behavior in the compact and midsize segments, and Bertrand behavior in the full-size segment. These findings are consistent with our theory-based hypotheses about competition in different segments. In estimating a structural model of the auto market, we address several methodological issues. A particular difficulty is the large number of car models in the U.S. auto market. Existing studies have inferred competitive behavior only in markets with two to four products. They also use relatively simple functional forms of demand to facilitate easy estimation. Functional forms of demand, however, impose structure on cross-elasticities between products. Such structure, when inappropriate, can bias the estimates of competitive interaction. We therefore use the random coefficients logit demand model to allow flexibility in cross-elasticities. We also use recent advances in New Empirical Industrial Organization (NEIO) to extend structural estimation of competitive behavior to markets with a large number of products. We use the simulation-based estimation approach developed by Berry et al. (1995) to estimate our model. A frequent criticism of the NEIO approach is that its focus on industry-specific studies limits the generalizability of its findings. In this study, we retain the advantages of NEIO methods but partially address the issue of generalizability by analyzing competitive behavior in multiple segments within the auto industry to see whether there is a consistent pattern that can be explained by theory. Theoretical modelers can use our results to judge the appropriateness of their models in predicting competitive outcomes for the markets that they analyze. A by-product of our analysis is that we also get estimates of demand and cost apart from competitive interactions for the market. Managers can use these estimates to perform “what-if” analysis. They can answer questions about what prices to charge when a new product is introduced or when an existing product's characteristics are changed.
Volume (Year): 20 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA|
Web page: http://www.informs.org/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1994.
"Computing Markov-Perfect Nash Equilibria: Numerical Implications of a Dynamic Differentiated Product Model,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(4), pages 555-589, Winter.
- Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1992. "Computing Markov Perfect Nash Equilibria: Numerical Implications of a Dynamic Differentiated Product Model," NBER Technical Working Papers 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1992. "Computing Markov perfect Nash equilibria: numerical implications of a dynamic differentiated product model," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 58, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "Hypothesis Testing with Efficient Method of Moments Estimation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 777-787, October.
- David Besanko & Sachin Gupta & Dipak Jain, 1998. "Logit Demand Estimation Under Competitive Pricing Behavior: An Equilibrium Framework," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(11-Part-1), pages 1533-1547, November.
- Dan Horsky & Paul Nelson, 1992. "New Brand Positioning and Pricing in an Oligopolistic Market," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(2), pages 133-153.
- Slade, Margaret E, 1995. "Product Rivalry with Multiple Strategic Weapons: An Analysis of Price and Advertising Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 445-476, Fall.
- Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
- Paul Klemperer, 1987. "Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 375-394.
- Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1981. "Departures from marginal-cost pricing in the American automobile industry : Estimates for 1977-1978," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 201-227, November.
- Caves, Richard E & Porter, Michael E, 1978. "Market Structure, Oligopoly, and Stability of Market Shares," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 289-313, June.
- Abhik Roy & Dominique M. Hanssens & Jagmohan S. Raju, 1994. "Competitive Pricing by a Price Leader," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(7), pages 809-823, July.
- Gasmi, F & Laffont, J J & Vuong, Q, 1992. "Econometric Analysis of Collusive Behavior in a Soft-Drink Market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 277-311, Summer.
- Gasmi, Farid & Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Vuong, Quang, 1992. "Econometric Analysis of Collusive Behavior in a Soft Drink Market," IDEI Working Papers 16, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-890, July.
- Frank Verboven, 1996. "International Price Discrimination in the European Car Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 240-268, Summer.
- Naufel J. Vilcassim & Vrinda Kadiyali & Pradeep K. Chintagunta, 1999. "Investigating Dynamic Multifirm Market Interactions in Price and Advertising," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(4), pages 499-518, April.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1990. "Multimarket Contact and Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
- Hansen, Lars Peter & Heaton, John & Yaron, Amir, 1996. "Finite-Sample Properties of Some Alternative GMM Estimators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 262-280, July.
- Vrinda Kadiyali, 1996. "Entry, Its Deterrence, and Its Accommodation: A Study of the U.S. Photographic Film Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 452-478, Autumn.
- Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1989. "Empirical studies of industries with market power," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 17, pages 1011-1057 Elsevier.
- William Boulding & Richard Staelin, 1993. "A Look on the Cost Side: Market Share and the Competitive Environment," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(2), pages 144-166.
- Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1987. "Competition and Collusion in the American Automobile Industry: The 1955 Price War," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 457-482, June.
- Klemperer, Paul D, 1987. "Entry Deterrence in Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 99-117, Supplemen.
- William Boulding & Richard Staelin, 1995. "Identifying Generalizable Effects of Strategic Actions on Firm Performance: The Case of Demand-Side Returns to R&D Spending," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(3_supplem), pages 222-236.
- J. Miguel Villas-Boas & Russell S. Winer, 1999. "Endogeneity in Brand Choice Models," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(10), pages 1324-1338, October. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:20:y:2001:i:1:p:42-60. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.