Do MSRPs Decrease Prices?
The nature of manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) and whether their effect is pro or anticompetitive is not well understood. Opposing theories suggest that manufacturers may attempt to reduce retail prices to deter double marginalization or increase retail prices to foster upstream or downstream collusion. We exploit a policy experiment in South Korea in which MSRPs were banned and then reinstated one year later to estimate their impact on prices. The ban increased prices by 2.3 percent and the reinstatement decreased prices by 2.6 percent, demonstrating the pro-competitive effect of MSRPs. Based on a lack of evidence that recommendations act as binding price ceilings, we offer an alternative explanation in which MSRPs provide information to searching consumers. We demonstrate that the removal of recommendations can reduce search and increase prices.
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