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Price Competition Under Limited Comparability

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  • Michele Piccione
  • Ran Spiegler

Abstract

This article studies market competition when firms can influence consumers' ability to compare market alternatives through their choice of price "formats." In our model, the ability of a consumer to make a comparison depends on the firms' format choices. Our main results concern the interaction between firms' equilibrium price and format decisions and its implications for industry profits and consumer switching rates. In particular, market forces drive down the firms' profits to a "constrained competitive" benchmark if and only if the comparability structure satisfies a property that we interpret as a form of "frame neutrality." The same property is necessary for equilibrium behavior to display statistical independence between price and format decisions. We also show that narrow regulatory interventions that aim to facilitate comparisons may have an anticompetitive effect. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Michele Piccione & Ran Spiegler, 2012. "Price Competition Under Limited Comparability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 97-135.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:1:p:97-135
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjr053
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2008. "Consumer optimism and price discrimination," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(4), December.
    2. Spiegler, Ran, 2014. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199334261.
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    6. Michele Piccione & Ariel Rubinstein, 2003. "Modeling the Economic Interaction of Agents With Diverse Abilities to Recognize Equilibrium Patterns," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 212-223, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection

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