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Switching Costs and Equilibrium Prices

  • Cabral, Luís M B

In a competitive environment, switching costs have two effects. First, they increase the market power of a seller with locked-in customers. Second, they increase competition for new customers. I provide conditions under which switching costs decrease or increase equilibrium prices. Taken together, the suggest that, if markets are very competitive to begin with, then switching costs make them even more competitive; whereas if markets are not very competitive to begin with, then switching costs make them even less competitive. In the above statements, by "competitive" I mean a market that is close to a symmetric duopoly or one where the sellers' discount factor is very high.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8970.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8970
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  1. V. Brian Viard, 2007. "Do switching costs make markets more or less competitive? The case of 800-number portability," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 146-163, 03.
  2. Caminal, Ramon & Matutes, Carmen, 1990. "Endogenous switching costs in a duopoly model," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 353-373, September.
  3. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
  4. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1988. "Dynamic Competition with Switching Costs," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1h02g9q4, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Taylor, Curtis R, 2003. " Supplier Surfing: Competition and Consumer Behavior in Subscription Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 223-46, Summer.
  6. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2006. "Dynamic Competition with Experience Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 37-66, 03.
  7. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Customer Poaching and Brand Switching," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1871, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Tore Nilssen, 1992. "Two Kinds of Consumer Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(4), pages 579-589, Winter.
  9. Kenneth S. Corts, 1998. "Third-Degree Price Discrimination in Oligopoly: All-Out Competition and Strategic Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 306-323, Summer.
  10. Andrew Rhodes, 2014. "Re-examining the effects of switching costs," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 161-194, September.
  11. Jason Pearcy, 2015. "Bargains Followed by Bargains: When Switching Costs Make Markets More Competitive," Working Papers 1004, Montana State University, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics.
  12. Biglaiser, Gary & Crémer, Jacques & Dobos, Gergely, 2010. "The value of switching costs," TSE Working Papers 10-142, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised 30 Oct 2012.
  13. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
  14. Yongmin Chen & Jason Pearcy, 2010. "Dynamic pricing: when to entice brand switching and when to reward consumer loyalty," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(4), pages 674-685.
  15. Fabra, Natalia & García, Alfredo, 2012. "Dynamic Price Competition with Switching Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 8849, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. To, Theodore, 1996. "Multi-period Competition with Switching Costs: An Overlapping Generations Formulation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 81-87, March.
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