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Regular prices and sales

Author

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  • Heidhues, Paul

    () (European School of Management and Technology)

  • Koszegi, Botond

    () (Department of Economics, Central European University and Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley)

Abstract

It is widely known that loss aversion leads individuals to dislike risk, and as has been argued by many researchers, in many instances this creates an incentive for firms to shield consumers and employees against economic risks. Complementing previous research, we show that consumer loss aversion can also have the opposite effect: it can lead a firm to optimally introduce risk into an otherwise deterministic environment. We consider a profit-maximizing monopolist selling to a loss-averse consumer, where (following \citeasnoun{koszegirabin}) we assume that the consumer's reference point is her recent rational expectations about the purchase. We establish that for any degree of consumer loss aversion, the monopolist's optimal price distribution consists of low and variable ``sale'' prices and a high and atomic ``regular'' price. Realizing that she will buy at the sale prices and hence that she will purchase with positive probability, the consumer chooses to avoid the painful uncertainty in whether she will get the product by buying also at the regular price. This pricing pattern is consistent with several recently documented facts regarding retailer pricing. We show that market power is crucial for this result: when firms compete ex ante for consumers, they choose deterministic prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidhues, Paul & Koszegi, Botond, 2014. "Regular prices and sales," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(1), January.
  • Handle: RePEc:the:publsh:1274
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Karle, Heiko & Peitz, Martin, 2017. "De-targeting: Advertising an assortment of products to loss-averse consumers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 103-124.
    2. Février, Philippe & Wilner, Lionel, 2016. "Do consumers correctly expect price reductions? Testing dynamic behavior," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 25-40.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:232-258 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nakamura, Emi & Steinsson, Jón, 2011. "Price setting in forward-looking customer markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 220-233.
    5. Xavier Gabaix, 2014. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1661-1710.
    6. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Behavioral Consumers in Industrial Organization: An Overview," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 247-258, November.
    7. Adriaan Soetevent & Liting Zhou, 2016. "Loss Modification Incentives for Insurers Under Expected Utility and Loss Aversion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 41-67, March.
    8. Gervasio Antonelli & Gian Italo Bischi & Fabio Tramontana & Elena Viganò, 2014. "Beyond a neoclassical consumer analysis in food choices," Working Papers 1410, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2014.
    9. Wenner, Lukas M., 2015. "Expected prices as reference points—Theory and experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 60-79.
    10. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia & Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2014. "Self-rewards and personal motivation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 151-167.
    11. Ahrens, Steffen & Pirschel, Inske & Snower, Dennis J., 2017. "A theory of price adjustment under loss aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 78-95.
    12. repec:spr:jstada:v:4:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40488-017-0067-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Elena Viganò & Gervasio Antonelli & Gian Italo Bischi & Fabio Tramontana, 2015. "Consumo e consumatori di prodotti alimentari nella società postmoderna," ECONOMIA AGRO-ALIMENTARE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 17(1), pages 59-80.
    14. Rosato, Antonio, 2017. "Sequential negotiations with loss-averse buyers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 290-304.
    15. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2015. "Beyond “Ellison’s Matrix”: New Directions in Behavioral Industrial Organization," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 259-272, November.
    16. Heiko Karle & Martin Peitz, 2014. "Competition under consumer loss aversion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(1), pages 1-31, March.
    17. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:681-705 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Fels, Markus, 2015. "On the value of information: Why people reject medical tests," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-12.
    19. Fabrizi, Simona & Lippert, Steffen & Puppe, Clemens & Rosenkranz, Stephanie, 2016. "Manufacturer suggested retail prices, loss aversion and competition," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 141-153.
    20. Courty, Pascal & Nasiry, Javad, 2015. "Loss Aversion and the Uniform Pricing Puzzle for Vertically Differentiated Products," CEPR Discussion Papers 10523, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2015. "X-games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 93-100.
    22. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:165-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. repec:ukb:journl:y:2017:i:239:p:28-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Pagel, Michaela, 2013. "Expectations-Based Reference-Dependent Life-Cycle Consumption," MPRA Paper 47138, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. von Wangenheim, Jonas, 2017. "English versus Vickrey Auctions with Loss Averse Bidders," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 48, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reference-dependent utility; gain-loss utility; loss aversion; sales; supermarket pricing; sticky prices;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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