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The Evolution of Brand Preferences: Evidence from Consumer Migration

  • Bart J. Bronnenberg
  • Jean-Pierre H. Dube
  • Matthew Gentzkow

We study the long-run evolution of brand preferences, using new data on consumers' life histories and purchases of consumer packaged goods. Variation in where consumers have lived in the past allows us to isolate the causal effect of past experiences on current purchases, holding constant contemporaneous supply-side factors such as availability, prices, and advertising. Heterogeneity in brand preferences explains 40 percent of geographic variation in market shares. These preferences develop endogenously as a function of consumers' life histories and are highly persistent once formed, with experiences 50 years in the past still exerting a significant effect on current consumption. Counterfactuals suggest that brand preferences create large entry barriers and durable advantages for incumbent firms, and can explain persistence of early-mover advantage over long periods. Variation across product categories shows that the persistence of brand preferences is related in an intuitive way to both advertising levels and the social visibility of consumption.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16267.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16267.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Publication status: published as With Bart Bronnenberg and Matt Gentzkow, "The Evolution of Brand Preferences: Evidence from Consumer Migration," American Economic Review (forthcoming).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16267
Note: IO
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  1. Atkin, David, 2010. "Trade, Tastes and Nutrition in India," Working Papers 80, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  2. John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson & Lucia Foster, 2010. "The Slow Growth of New Plants: Learning about Demand?," 2010 Meeting Papers 106, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. James J. Heckman & James M. Snyder, Jr., 1996. "Linear Probability Models of the Demand for Attributes with an Empirical Application to Estimating the Preferences of Legislators," NBER Working Papers 5785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Liran Einav & Ephraim Leibtag & Aviv Nevo, 2010. "Recording discrepancies in Nielsen Homescan data: Are they present and do they matter?," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 207-239, June.
  5. Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2008. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Davina C. Ling & Ernst R. Berndt & Margaret K. Kyle, 2002. "Deregulating Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Prescription Drugs: Effects on Prescription and Over-the-Counter Product Sales," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(S2), pages 691-723.
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