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Prices and Heterogeneous Search Costs

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stahl, Dale O., 1996. "Oligopolistic pricing with heterogeneous consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 243-268.
    2. Heski Bar-Isaac & Guillermo Caruana & Vicente Cunat, 2012. "Search, Design, and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1140-1160, April.
    3. Marco A. Haan & José L. Moraga‐González, 2011. "Advertising for Attention in a Consumer Search Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 552-579, May.
    4. Rauh, Michael T., 2009. "Strategic complementarities and search market equilibrium," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 959-978, July.
    5. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    6. Wei Ding & Elmar G. Wolfstetter, 2011. "Prizes and lemons: procurement of innovation under imperfect commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(4), pages 664-680, December.
    7. Maarten Janssen & Sandro Shelegia, 2015. "Consumer Search and Double Marginalization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1683-1710, June.
    8. Chen, Yongmin & Zhang, Tianle, 2011. "Equilibrium price dispersion with heterogeneous searchers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 645-654.
    9. Wilson, Chris M., 2010. "Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 496-506, September.
    10. Rauh, Michael T., 2004. "Wage and price controls in the equilibrium sequential search model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 1287-1300, December.
    11. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Yuta KITTAKA, 2018. "Multiproduct Firms, Consumer Search, and Demand Heterogeneity," ISER Discussion Paper 1024, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    2. repec:eee:indorg:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:183-213 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:indorg:v:60:y:2018:i:c:p:179-205 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Janssen, Maarten & Reshidi, Edona, 2018. "Retail Discrimination in Search Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 12945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. 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.
    6. Fabra, Natalia, 2018. "A Model of Search with Price Discrimination," CEPR Discussion Papers 12823, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Parakhonyak, Alexei & Titova, Maria, 2018. "Shopping malls, platforms and consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 183-213.
    8. Chen, Yongmin & Li, zhuozheng & Zhang, Tianle, 2019. "A Search Model of Experience Goods," MPRA Paper 93547, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Ding, Yucheng & Zhang, Tianle, 2018. "Price-directed consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 106-135.
    10. repec:eee:indorg:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:255-277 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Chen, Yongmin & Zhang, Tianle, 2018. "Intermediaries and consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 255-277.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    differentiated products; monotone likelihood ratio; search cost heterogeneity; sequential search;

    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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