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Prices and Heterogeneous Search Costs

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  • Moraga-González, José-Luis
  • Sándor, Zsolt
  • Wildenbeest, Matthijs

Abstract

We study price formation in a model of consumer search for differentiated products when consumers have heterogeneous marginal search costs. We provide conditions under which a symmetric Nash equilibrium exists and is unique. Search costs affect two margins—the intensive search margin (or search intensity) and the extensive search margin (or the decision to search rather than to not search at all). These two margins affect the elasticity of demand in opposite directions and whether lower search costs result in higher or lower prices depends on the properties of the search cost density. When the search cost density has the increasing likelihood ratio property (ILRP), the effect of lowering search costs on the intensive search margin has a dominating influence and prices decrease. By contrast, when the search cost density has the decreasing likelihood ratio property (DLRP), the effect on the extensive search margin is dominant and lower search costs result in higher prices. We compare these results with those obtained when consumers have heterogeneous fixed search costs.

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  • Moraga-González, José-Luis & Sándor, Zsolt & Wildenbeest, Matthijs, 2015. "Prices and Heterogeneous Search Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 10657, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10657
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    3. Janssen, Maarten C.W., 2020. "Vertical contracts in search markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    4. Pires, Tiago, 2018. "Measuring the effects of search costs on equilibrium prices and profits," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 179-205.
    5. Rey, Patrick & Nocke, Volker, 2021. "Consumer Search and Choice Overload," TSE Working Papers 21-1239, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Oct 2022.
    6. Yuta KITTAKA & Ryo MIKAMI, 2020. "Consumer Search and Stock-out: A Laboratory Experiment," ISER Discussion Paper 1104, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    7. Tobias Gamp & Daniel Kraehmer, 2018. "Deception and Competition in Search Markets," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_014_2018, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    8. Fabra, Natalia & Reguant, Mar, 2020. "A model of search with price discrimination," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    9. Daniel Garcia, 2017. "Dynamic Pricing with Search Frictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 6765, CESifo.
    10. A. Cavaliere & G. Crea, 2022. "Brand premia driven by perceived vertical differentiation in markets with information disparity and optimistic consumers," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 223-253, April.
    11. Chen, Yongmin & Li, zhuozheng & Zhang, Tianle, 2019. "A Search Model of Experience Goods," MPRA Paper 93547, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Ding, Yucheng & Zhang, Tianle, 2018. "Price-directed consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 106-135.
    13. Sviták, Jan & Tichem, Jan & Haasbeek, Stefan, 2021. "Price effects of search advertising restrictions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    14. Yuta KITTAKA, 2018. "Multiproduct Firms, Consumer Search, and Demand Heterogeneity," ISER Discussion Paper 1024, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    15. Fabra, Natalia & Montero, Juan Pablo, 2017. "Product Choice and Price Discrimination in Markets with Search Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 12046, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Ruby P. Kishan & Dean Showalter & Timothy P. Opiela, 2021. "Internet Access and Bank Deposit Rates," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 49(4), pages 405-421, December.
    17. Federico Rossi & Pradeep K. Chintagunta, 2018. "Price Uncertainty and Market Power in Retail Gasoline: The Case of an Italian Highway," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(5), pages 753-770, September.
    18. Petrikaitė, Vaiva, 2022. "Escaping search when buying," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    19. Janssen, Maarten & Reshidi, Edona, 2018. "Retail Discrimination in Search Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 12945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Cao, Yiran & Chen, Yongmin & Ding, Yucheng & Zhang, Tianle, 2022. "Search and competition in expert markets," MPRA Paper 114170, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Xing Zhang & Tat Y. Chan & Ying Xie, 2018. "Price Search and Periodic Price Discounts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(2), pages 495-510, February.
    22. Anna Airoldi & Michele Polo, 2017. "Opening the Retail Electricity Markets: Puzzles, Drawbacks and Policy Options," IEFE Working Papers 97, IEFE, Center for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    23. Chen, Yongmin & Zhang, Tianle, 2018. "Intermediaries and consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 255-277.
    24. Daniel Garcia, 2017. "Dynamic Pricing with Search Frictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 6765, CESifo.
    25. Martin, Simon, 2020. "Market transparency and consumer search - Evidence from the German retail gasoline market," DICE Discussion Papers 350, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    differentiated products; monotone likelihood ratio; search cost heterogeneity; sequential search;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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