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Competition in Price and Availability When Availability is Unobservable

  • Dana, James D, Jr

I present a strategic model of competition in price and availability in which demand is uncertain and consumers choose where to shop given firms' observable prices and their expectations of firms' unobservable inventories. In both a single-period Cournot model (inventories are chosen first) and a single-period Bertrand model (prices are chosen first), I show that firms use higher prices to "signal" higher availability. This creates a floor on equilibrium prices and industry profits regardless of the number of firms. The model is useful in understanding the relationship between price and availability in the video rental industry. Copyright 2001 by the RAND Corporation.

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Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (Autumn)
Pages: 497-513

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Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:32:y:2001:i:3:p:497-513
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  1. Carlton, Dennis W, 1979. "Contracts, Price Rigidity, and Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1034-62, October.
  2. Gould, John P, 1978. "Inventories and Stochastic Demand: Equilibrium Models of the Firm and Industry," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 1-42, January.
  3. van Damme, E.E.C. & Hurkens, J.P.M., 1994. "Games with imperfectly observable commitment," Discussion Paper 1994-64, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  5. Wolinsky, Asher, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 647-58, October.
  6. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Smallwood, Dennis E & Conlisk, John, 1979. "Product Quality in Markets Where Consumers are Imperfectly Informed," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 1-23, February.
  8. Howard P. Marvel & Raymond Deneckere & James Peck, 1995. "Demand Uncertainty, Inventories, and Resale Price Maintainance," Working Papers 019, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Horstmann, Ignatius J & MacDonald, Glenn M, 1994. "When Is Advertising a Signal of Product Quality?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 561-84, Fall.
  10. B. L. Schwartz, 1970. "Optimal Inventory Policies in Perturbed Demand Models," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(8), pages B509-B518, April.
  11. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  12. Allen, Franklin & Faulhaber, Gerald R, 1988. "Optimism Invites Deception," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(2), pages 397-407, May.
  13. Noah Gans, 1999. "Customer Loyalty and Supplier Strategies for Quality Competition," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-12, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  14. Eden, Benjamin, 1990. "Marginal Cost Pricing When Spot Markets Are Complete," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1293-1306, December.
  15. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-74216 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Rogerson, William P, 1987. "The Dissipation of Profits by Brand Name Investment and Entry when Price Guarantees Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 797-809, August.
  17. Prescott, Edward C, 1975. "Efficiency of the Natural Rate," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1229-36, December.
  18. Noah Gans, 1999. "Customer Learning and Loyalty When Quality is Uncertain," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-11, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  19. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1992. "Search Equilibrium with Endogenous Recall," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 184-202, Summer.
  20. Benjamin L. Schwartz, 1966. "A New Approach to Stockout Penalties," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(12), pages B538-B544, August.
  21. Peters, Michael, 1984. "Bertrand Equilibrium with Capacity Constraints and Restricted Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1117-27, September.
  22. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1991. "Endogenous Availability in Search Equilibrium," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 287-306, Summer.
  23. Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
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