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Effects of Increased Variety on Demand, Pricing, and Welfare

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Abstract

We use order statistics to analytically derive demand functions when consumers choose from among the varieties of two brands—such as Coke and Pepsi—and an outside good. Soft-drinks have no price variability across varieties within a brand, so traditional demand systems (e.g., mixed logit) are not identified. In contrast, our demand system is identified and can be estimated using a nonlinear instrumental variable estimator. Our demand functions are higher-order polynomials, where the polynomial order is increasing in variety. Because these demand curves have convex and concave sections around an inflection point, firms are more likely to respond and make large price adjustments to increases in cost than to comparable decreases in costs. We compare the profit-maximizing number of varieties within a grocery store to the socially optimal number and find that consumer surplus and welfare would increase with more variety. Key Words: Varieties, Product Line, Consumer Surplus, Welfare, Demand, Order Statistics JEL No. L11, L66, D11

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  • William Horrace & Rui Huang & Jeffrey M. Perloff, 2013. "Effects of Increased Variety on Demand, Pricing, and Welfare," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 152, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  • Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:152
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    1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
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    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory

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