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The Role of Sales Agents in Information Disclosure: Evidence from a Field Experiment

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  • Hunt Allcott

    () (Department of Economics, New York University, New York, New York 10012)

  • Richard L. Sweeney

    () (Economics Department, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467)

Abstract

With a large nationwide retailer, we run a natural field experiment to measure the effects of energy use information disclosure, customer rebates, and sales agent incentives on demand for energy-efficient durable goods. Although a combination of large rebates plus sales incentives substantially increases market share, information and sales incentives alone each have zero statistical effect and explain at most a small fraction of the low baseline market share. Sales agents strategically comply only partially with the experiment, targeting information to more interested consumers but not discussing energy efficiency with the disinterested majority. These results suggest that seller-provided information is not a major barrier to energy-efficiency investments at current prices in this context.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Richard L. Sweeney, 2017. "The Role of Sales Agents in Information Disclosure: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(1), pages 21-39, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:63:y:2017:i:1:p:21-39
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2015.2327
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    Cited by:

    1. Cristina Cattaneo, 2018. "Internal and External Barriers to Energy Efficiency: Made-to-Measure Policy Interventions," Working Papers 2018.08, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Lucas W. Davis & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2016. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 589-625.
    3. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2017. "Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1486-1525, December.
    4. Hunt Allcott & Christopher Knittel, 2019. "Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 1-37, February.
    5. Chandrayee Chatterjee & James C. Cox & Michael K. Price & Florian Rundhammer, 2020. "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Understanding How State Tax Credits Impact Charitable Giving," NBER Working Papers 27163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Giraudet, Louis-Gaëtan, 2020. "Energy efficiency as a credence good: A review of informational barriers to energy savings in the building sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    7. Maria R. Ibanez & Jonathan R. Clark & Robert S. Huckman & Bradley R. Staats, 2018. "Discretionary Task Ordering: Queue Management in Radiological Services," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(9), pages 4389-4407, September.
    8. Cattaneo, Cristina, 2018. "Internal and External Barriers to Energy Efficiency: Made-to-Measure Policy Interventions," CSI: Climate and Sustainable Innovation 269536, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    9. Palmer, Karen & Walls, Margaret & O'Keeffe, Lucy, "undated". "Putting Information into Action: What Explains Follow-up on Home Energy Audits?," Discussion Papers dp-15-34, Resources For the Future.
    10. Louis-Gaëtan Giraudet, 2018. "Energy efficiency as a credence good: A review of informational barriers to building energy savings," Working Papers 2018.07, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    11. Stadelmann, Marcel & Schubert, Renate, 2018. "How Do Different Designs of Energy Labels Influence Purchases of Household Appliances? A Field Study in Switzerland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 112-123.
    12. Bruno Lanz & Evert Reins, 2019. "Asymmetric information on the market for energy efficiency: Insights from the credence goods literature," IRENE Working Papers 19-03, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    energy efficiency; energy-using durables; information disclosure; randomized field experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L68 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Appliances; Furniture; Other Consumer Durables
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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