The Groucho Effect of Uncertain Standards
Consumers are rarely sure of the exact standard that product labels and other certificates of quality represent. We show that any such uncertainty creates a “Groucho effect” in which seeing that a product has a label leads consumers to infer that the standard for the label itself is not very demanding. Label adoption is therefore always less likely to be an equilibrium than without uncertainty over the standard, and if it is an equilibrium it is always less informative than without such uncertainty. The Groucho effect leads to an information externality so better firms are reluctant to adopt labels if worse firms adopt them. Applying the model to eco-labels, we find that industry groups, governments, and NGOs can increase label adoption by publicizing labeling criteria, by encouraging consumers to expect label adoption when there are multiple equilibria, and by setting high standards that are less likely to be devalued by low quality firms.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1309 East Tenth Street, Room 451, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701|
Web page: http://kelley.iu.edu/bepp/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2004. "A Model of Forum Shopping, with Special Reference to Standard Setting Organizations," NBER Working Papers 10664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987.
"Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games,"
Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
- Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
- Mattoo, Aaditya & Singh, Harsha V, 1994. "Eco-labelling: Policy Considerations," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 53-65.
- Sobel, Joel, 2001. "On the Dynamics of Standards," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 606-23, Winter.
- Lyon,Thomas P. & Maxwell,John W., 2004.
"Corporate Environmentalism and Public Policy,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521819473, June.
- Teisl, Mario F. & Roe, Brian & Hicks, Robert L., 2002. "Can Eco-Labels Tune a Market? Evidence from Dolphin-Safe Labeling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 339-359, May.
- Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-46, December.
- Verrecchia, Robert E., 1983. "Discretionary disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 179-194, April.
- Jeffrey R. Blend & Eileen O. van Ravenswaay, 1999. "Measuring Consumer Demand for Ecolabeled Apples," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1072-1077.
- Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
- Michael J. Fishman & Kathleen M. Hagerty, 2003. "Mandatory Versus Voluntary Disclosure in Markets with Informed and Uninformed Customers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 45-63, April.
- Shin, Hyun Song, 2002.
"Disclosures and Asset Returns,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Dan Levin & James Peck & Lixin Ye, 2009. "QUALITY DISCLOSURE AND COMPETITION -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 167-196, 03.
- Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Andrew Postlewaite & Kotaro Suzumura, 1990. "Strategic Information Revelation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(1), pages 25-47.
- W. Kip Viscusi, 1978. "A Note on "Lemons" Markets with Quality Certification," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 277-279, Spring.
- Paul R. Milgrom, 1979.
"Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications,"
407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
- Amacher, Gregory S. & Koskela, Erkki & Ollikainen, Markku, 2004. "Environmental quality competition and eco-labeling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 284-306, March.
- Alessandro Lizzeri, 1999. "Information Revelation and Certification Intermediaries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 214-231, Summer.
- Lutz, Stefan & Lyon, Thomas P & Maxwell, John W, 2000. "Quality Leadership When Regulatory Standards Are Forthcoming," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 331-48, September.
- Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2003. "The Effect of Information on Product Quality: Evidence from Restaurant Hygiene Grade Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 409-451.
- Rick Harbaugh & Theodore To, 2005. "False Modesty: When Disclosing Good News Looks Bad," Working Papers 2005-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2006-09. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rick Harbaugh)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.