IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/jconrs/v30y2003i1p56-71.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Smart Agents: When Lower Search Costs for Quality Information Increase Price Sensitivity

Author

Listed:
  • Diehl, Kristin
  • Kornish, Laura J
  • Lynch, John G, Jr

Abstract

Recent consumer research suggests that lowering search costs for quality information reduces consumer price sensitivity by creating greater perceived differentiation among brands (e.g., Kaul and Wittink 1995; Lynch and Ariely 2000). We argue that lowering quality search costs by smart agents can have the opposite effect on differentiation and price sensitivity. Smart agents screen through a universe of alternatives, recommending only a handful well-matched to the customer's quality preferences. In this research, we ask and answer the following questions: In markets in which price and quality are uncorrelated, will the use of screening agents increase or decrease prices paid compared to searching from an unordered list of options? Will increasing the size of the store's underlying assortment increase or decrease prices paid when options have been screened on quality? In markets where higher priced goods have higher quality, will the use of screening agents increase or decrease prices paid and quality selected? Experiments 1 and 2 test the effect of quality screening when price and quality are uncorrelated. We then present an analytic model for markets in which price and quality are correlated. We deduce that ordering can cause price and quality to increase or decrease depending on the slope of the price-quality relationship in comparison with the relative importance of price in the utility function. We find support for this model in experiment 3. Copyright 2003 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Diehl, Kristin & Kornish, Laura J & Lynch, John G, Jr, 2003. " Smart Agents: When Lower Search Costs for Quality Information Increase Price Sensitivity," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 56-71, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:30:y:2003:i:1:p:56-71
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/374698
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:30:y:2003:i:1:p:56-71. 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: (Oxford University Press). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.