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Consumer search costs and the incentives to merge under Bertrand Competition


  • Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose L.

    () (IESE Business School)

  • Petrikaite, Vaiva

    (University of Groningen)


This paper studies the incentives to merge in a Bertrand competition model where firms sell differentiated products and consumers search the market for satisfactory deals. In the pre-merger market equilibrium, all firms look alike and so the probability a firm is next in the queue consumers follow when visiting firms is equal across non-visited firms. However, after a merger, insiders raise their prices more than the outsiders, so consumers search for good deals first at the non-merging stores and only then, if they do not find any product satisfactory enough, at the merging stores. When search cost are negligible, the results of Deneckere and Davidson (1985) hold. However, as search costs increase, the merging firms receive fewer customers, so mergers become unprofitable for sufficiently large search costs. This new merger paradox is more likely the higher the number of non-merging firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose L. & Petrikaite, Vaiva, 2011. "Consumer search costs and the incentives to merge under Bertrand Competition," IESE Research Papers D/934, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0934

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2003. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, and Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of the S&P 500 Index Funds," NBER Working Papers 9728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Zhou, Jidong, 2011. "Ordered search in differentiated markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 253-262, March.
    3. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2009. "Prominence and consumer search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 209-233.
    4. Stephen W. Salant & Sheldon Switzer & Robert J. Reynolds, 1983. "Losses From Horizontal Merger: The Effects of an Exogenous Change in Industry Structure on Cournot-Nash Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(2), pages 185-199.
    5. Simon P. Anderson & Regis Renault, 1999. "Pricing, Product Diversity, and Search Costs: A Bertrand-Chamberlin-Diamond Model," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(4), pages 719-735, Winter.
    6. Maria Arbatskaya, 2007. "Ordered search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 119-126, March.
    7. Kohn, Meir G. & Shavell, Steven, 1974. "The theory of search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 93-123, October.
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    More about this item


    mergers; search; insiders; outsiders; order of search;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • 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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