Who Benefits from Misleading Advertising?
We develop a Hotelling model of horizontally and vertically differentiated brands with misleading advertising competition. We investigate the question of who benefits or loses from the misinformation created by advertising competition and related regulatory policies. We show that the quality gaps between two brands are crucial for determining the effect of misinformation on the firms’ profits, aggregate or individual consumer surplus, and national welfare. Although the misinformation tricks consumers into buying products that they would not have purchased otherwise, it may improve welfare even if the advertising does not expand the overall demand for the brands. We also show that, although endogenous advertising competition may lead to a prisoner’s dilemma for firms, it makes some consumers better off. We also consider the effects of several regulatory policies, such as advertising taxes, ad valorem and unit taxes on production, comprehensive and partial prohibitions of misleading advertising, government provisions of quality certification or counter-information, and the education of consumers.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2012|
|Date of revision:||Mar 2012|
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