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Estimating demand in search markets: the case of online hotel bookings

  • Sergei Koulayev

In this paper, we emphasize that choice sets generated by a search process have two properties: first, they are limited; second, they are endogenous to preferences. Both factors lead to biased estimates in a static demand framework that takes choice sets as given. To correct for this bias, we estimate a structural model of search for differentiated products, using a unique dataset of consumer online search for hotels. Within a nested logit utility model, we show that the mean utility function and the search cost distribution of a representative consumer are non-parametrically identified, given our data. Using our model's estimates, we quantify both sources of bias: they lead to overestimation of price elasticity by a factor of five and four, respectively. The median search cost is about 38 dollars per 15 hotels; we also present some evidence on multi-modality of search cost distribution.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 09-16.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:09-16
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  1. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2009. "Prominence and consumer search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 209-233.
  2. Nitin Mehta & Surendra Rajiv & Kannan Srinivasan, 2003. "Price Uncertainty and Consumer Search: A Structural Model of Consideration Set Formation," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 58-84, June.
  3. Costinot, Arnaud & Komunjer, Ivana, 2006. "What Goods Do Countries Trade? New Ricardian Predictions," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt86n316hw, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  4. Christopher T. Conlon & Julie Holland Mortimer, 2010. "Demand Estimation Under Incomplete Product Availability," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 799, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 07 Aug 2012.
  5. Franco Mariuzzo & Patrick Paul Walsh & Ciara Whelan, 2009. "Coverage of Retail Stores and Discrete Choice Models of Demand: Estimating Price Elasticities and Welfare Effects," Working Papers 200922, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  6. Babur De los Santos, 2008. "Consumer Search on the Internet," Working Papers 08-15, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
  7. Eric J. Johnson & Wendy W. Moe & Peter S. Fader & Steven Bellman & Gerald L. Lohse, 2004. "On the Depth and Dynamics of Online Search Behavior," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 299-308, March.
  8. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  9. Babur De los Santos & Ali Hortacsu & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2009. "Testing Models of Consumer Search using Data on Web Browsing and Purchasing Behavior," Working Papers 2009-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  10. Sergei Koulayev, 2008. "Estimating search with learning," Working Papers 08-29, NET Institute, revised Oct 2008.
  11. Hernán A. Bruno & Naufel J. Vilcassim, 2008. "—Structural Demand Estimation with Varying Product Availability," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(6), pages 1126-1131, 11-12.
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