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Price Competition and Consumer Confusion

  • Ioana Chioveanu

    ()

  • Jidong Zhou

    ()

This paper proposes a model in which identical sellers of a homogenous product compete in both prices and price frames (i.e., ways to present price information). Frame choices affect the comparability of price offers, and may cause consumer confusion and lower price sensitivity. In equilibrium, firms randomize their frame choices to obfuscate price comparisons and sustain positive profits. The nature of equilibrium depends on whether frame differentiation or frame complexity is more confusing. Moreover, an increase in the number of competitors induces firms to rely more on frame complexity and this may boost industry profits and lower consumer surplus.

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File URL: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/342777/CEDI_12-08.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University in its series CEDI Discussion Paper Series with number 12-08.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edb:cedidp:12-08
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  1. Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2009. "A Search Cost Model of Obfuscation," NBER Working Papers 15237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Baye, Michael R. & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G., 1992. "It takes two to tango: Equilibria in a model of sales," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 493-510, October.
  3. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Competition over agents with boundedly rational expectations," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 207-231, June.
  5. Maarten C. W. Janssen & José Luis Moraga-González, 2004. "Strategic Pricing, Consumer Search and the Number of Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 1089-1118, October.
  6. Looney, Adam & Kroft, Kory & Chetty, Raj, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," Scholarly Articles 9748525, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," NBER Working Papers 12261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Spiegler, Ran, 2014. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199334261, March.
  9. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  10. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
  11. Kalaycı, Kenan & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2012. "Complexity and Biases," Discussion Papers in Economics 13035, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Armstrong, Mark & Chen, Yongmin, 2007. "Inattentive Consumers and Product Quality," MPRA Paper 4797, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Jennifer Brown & Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2010. "Shrouded Attributes and Information Suppression: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 859-876, May.
  14. Wilson, Chris M., 2010. "Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 496-506, September.
  15. John Morgan & Tanjim Hossain, 2006. "...plus shipping and handling: Revenue (non) equivalence in field experiments on ebay," Natural Field Experiments 00270, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Eliaz, Kfir & Ok, Efe A., 2006. "Indifference or indecisiveness? Choice-theoretic foundations of incomplete preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-86, July.
  17. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  18. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 263-305, February.
  19. KalaycI, Kenan & Potters, Jan, 2011. "Buyer confusion and market prices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 14-22, January.
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