IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Discontinuities: What is the value of having the lowest price or highest consumer rating on a price comparison website?


  • Lindgren, Charlie

    (School of Technology and Business Studies, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden)


This paper examines price elasticities on a price comparison website and if there is a discontinuity in demand for retailers having the lowest price, or products having the highest consumer rating. Previous research is extended upon, with a larger, more recent, and more varied dataset, with retailers and products followed over a longer period. It is found that there is a statistically significant positive discontinuity in demand for retailers offering the lowest price. However, the results also show that the magnitude of the effect can vary substantially between product categories. The increase in demand ranges from 58% to 154%, with an average effect of 92%. The results pertaining to consumer ratings are found to be inconclusive. The importance for retailers of maintaining the lowest price therefore remains strong, while consumer ratings seem to have less of an impact on consumer demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindgren, Charlie, 2021. "Discontinuities: What is the value of having the lowest price or highest consumer rating on a price comparison website?," HFI Working Papers 19, Institute of Retail Economics (Handelns Forskningsinstitut).
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hfiwps:0019

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2004. "Price Dispersion In The Small And In The Large: Evidence From An Internet Price Comparison Site," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 463-496, December.
    2. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2004. "Temporal Price Dispersion: Evidence from an Online Consumer Electronics Market," Working Papers 2004-04, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    3. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
    4. Gourieroux, Christian & Monfort, Alain & Trognon, Alain, 1984. "Pseudo Maximum Likelihood Methods: Applications to Poisson Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 701-720, May.
    5. Kathy Baylis & Jeffrey Perloff, 2002. "Price Dispersion on the Internet: Good Firms and Bad Firms," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 21(3), pages 305-324, November.
    6. Santos Silva, J.M.C. & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2011. "Further simulation evidence on the performance of the Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood estimator," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 220-222, August.
    7. Monic Sun, 2012. "How Does the Variance of Product Ratings Matter?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(4), pages 696-707, April.
    8. Jeffrey R. Brown & Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 481-507, June.
    9. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-1579, September.
    10. David Godes & Dina Mayzlin, 2004. "Using Online Conversations to Study Word-of-Mouth Communication," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(4), pages 545-560, June.
    11. Takayuki Mizuno & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2013. "Why are product prices in online markets not converging?," UTokyo Price Project Working Paper Series 007, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics.
    12. Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Rudholm, Niklas, 2014. "Does shelf-labeling of organic foods increase sales? Results from a natural experiment," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 804-811.
    13. Takayuki Mizuno & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2013. "Why are product prices in online markets not converging?," CIGS Working Paper Series 13-001E, The Canon Institute for Global Studies.
    14. Takayuki Mizuno & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2013. "Why are product prices in online markets not converging?," CARF F-Series CARF-F-314, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
    15. Takayuki Mizuno & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2013. "Why Are Product Prices in Online Markets Not Converging?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(8), pages 1-7, August.
    16. Tang, Zhulei & Smith, Michael D. & Montgomery, Alan, 2010. "The impact of shopbot use on prices and price dispersion: Evidence from online book retailing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 579-590, November.
    17. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
    18. Cees Van Der Eijk, 2001. "Measuring Agreement in Ordered Rating Scales," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 325-341, August.
    19. Baye, Michael R. & Morgan, John, 2002. "Information gatekeepers and price discrimination on the internet," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 47-51, June.
    20. Charlie Lindgren & Sven-Olov Daunfeldt & Niklas Rudholm & Siril Yella, 2021. "Is intertemporal price discrimination the cause of price dispersion in markets with low search costs?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(11), pages 968-971, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Lindgren, Charlie & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Rudholm, Niklas, 2021. "Pricing In Retail Markets With Low Search Costs: Evidence From A Price Comparison Website," HFI Working Papers 18, Institute of Retail Economics (Handelns Forskningsinstitut).
    2. Michael R. Baye & J. Rupert J. Gatti & Paul Kattuman & John Morgan, 2009. "Clicks, Discontinuities, and Firm Demand Online," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 935-975, December.
    3. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2009. "Brand and Price Advertising in Online Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(7), pages 1139-1151, July.
    4. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2005. "Probabilistic Patents," Microeconomics 0504004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Bernd Jost, 2012. "Price Dispersion, Search Costs and Spatial Competition: Evidence from the Austrian Retail Gasoline Market," NEURUS papers neurusp166, NEURUS - Network of European and US Regional and Urban Studies.
    6. David Ronayne, 2021. "Price Comparison Websites," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 62(3), pages 1081-1110, August.
    7. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    8. Giovanni Anania & Rosanna Nisticò, 2011. "Price Dispersion, Search Costs And Consumers And Sellers Heterogeneity In Retail Food Markets," Working Papers 201105, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    9. Baye, Michael & GATTI, RUPERT J & Kattuman, Paul & Morgan, John, 2004. "Estimating Firm-Level Demand at a Price Comparison Site: Accounting for Shoppers and the Number of Competitors," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt923692d1, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    10. Gatti, J.R.J. & Kattuman, P., 2003. "Online Price Dispersion Within and Between Seven European Countries," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0343, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    11. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2004. "Price Dispersion In The Small And In The Large: Evidence From An Internet Price Comparison Site," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 463-496, December.
    12. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2005. "Lessons About Markets from the Internet," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 139-158, Spring.
    13. Haynes, Michelle & Thompson, Steve, 2008. "Price, price dispersion and number of sellers at a low entry cost shopbot," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 459-472, March.
    14. repec:smu:ecowpa:1301 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Debashrita Mohapatra & Debi Prasad Mohapatra & Ram Sewak Dubey, 2023. "Price dispersion across online platforms: Evidence from hotel room prices in London (UK)," Papers 2310.12341,
    16. Alfredo Martin-Oliver & Vicente Salas-Fumas & Jesús Saurina, 2008. "Search Cost and Price Dispersion in Vertically Related Markets: The Case of Bank Loans and Deposits," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 33(4), pages 297-323, December.
    17. Grewal, Dhruv & Janakiraman, Ramkumar & Kalyanam, Kirthi & Kannan, P.K. & Ratchford, Brian & Song, Reo & Tolerico, Stephen, 2010. "Strategic Online and Offline Retail Pricing: A Review and Research Agenda," Journal of Interactive Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 138-154.
    18. Michelle Haynes & Steve Thompson, 2013. "Entry and Exit Behavior in the Absence of Sunk Costs: Evidence from a Price Comparison Site," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 42(1), pages 1-23, February.
    19. Donna, Javier D. & Schenone, Pablo & Veramendi, Gregory F., 2020. "Networks, frictions, and price dispersion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 406-431.
    20. Woo Gon Kim & Meehee Cho & Daekwan Kim & Geon-Cheol Shin, 2014. "The Effect of Price Dispersion on hOtel Performance," Tourism Economics, , vol. 20(6), pages 1159-1179, December.
    21. Ben-Shahar, Danny & Golan, Roni, 2022. "Price dispersion and time-on-market in the housing market," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(PB).

    More about this item


    Online retailing; e-commerce; price comparison websites; product ratings; lowest price;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:hfiwps:0019. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Hans Seerar Westerberg (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.