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Discounts and Deadlines in Consumer Search

Author

Listed:
  • Dominic Coey
  • Bradley Larsen
  • Brennan Platt

Abstract

We present a new equilibrium search model where consumers initially search among discount opportunities, but are willing to pay more as a deadline approaches, eventually turning to full-price sellers. The model predicts equilibrium price dispersion and rationalizes discount and full-price sellers coexisting without relying on ex-ante heterogeneity. We apply the model to online retail sales via auctions and posted prices, where failed attempts to purchase a good reveal consumers' reservation prices. We find robust evidence supporting the theory, and demonstrate that ignoring buyer deadlines can distort estimates of market welfare, consumer demand, and underlying causes of market shifts.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominic Coey & Bradley Larsen & Brennan Platt, 2016. "Discounts and Deadlines in Consumer Search," NBER Working Papers 22038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22038
    Note: IO TWP
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lesley Chiou & Jennifer Pate, 2010. "Internet Auctions and Frictionless Commerce: Evidence from the Retail Gift Card Market," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 36(3), pages 295-304, May.
    2. Kenneth Hendricks & Ilke Onur & Thomas Wiseman, 2012. "Last-Minute Bidding in Sequential Auctions with Unobserved, Stochastic Entry," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 40(1), pages 1-19, February.
    3. Jeitschko, Thomas D., 1999. "Equilibrium price paths in sequential auctions with stochastic supply," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 67-72, July.
    4. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Last-Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Evidence from eBay and Amazon Auctions on the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1093-1103, September.
    5. Thomas D. Jeitschko, 1998. "Learning in Sequential Auctions," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(1), pages 98-112, July.
    6. Philip A. Haile & Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2003. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values at First-Price Sealed-Bid Auctions," NBER Working Papers 10105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Budish, Eric B. & Takeyama, Lisa N., 2001. "Buy prices in online auctions: irrationality on the internet?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 325-333, September.
    8. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    9. Wang, Ruqu, 1993. "Auctions versus Posted-Price Selling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 838-851, September.
    10. Platt, Brennan C., 2017. "Inferring ascending auction participation from observed bidders," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 65-88.
    11. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 1994. "Sequential auctions of stochastically equivalent objects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 87-90.
    12. Hammond, Robert G., 2013. "A structural model of competing sellers: Auctions and posted prices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 52-68.
    13. Attila Ambrus & James Burns & Yuhta Ishii, 2012. "Gradual Bidding in eBay-Like Auctions," Working Papers 12-12, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    14. S. Nuray Akin & Brennan Platt, 2012. "Running Out of Time: Limited Unemployment Benefits and Reservation Wages," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 149-170, April.
    15. René Kirkegaard & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2008. "Buy‐out prices in auctions: seller competition and multi‐unit demands," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 770-789, September.
    16. Krishnamurthy Iyer & Ramesh Johari & Mukund Sundararajan, 2014. "Mean Field Equilibria of Dynamic Auctions with Learning," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(12), pages 2949-2970, December.
    17. Henry S. Schneider, 2016. "The Bidder's Curse: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 1182-1194, April.
    18. Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012. "A search cost model of obfuscation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(3), pages 417-441, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Garcia, 2017. "Dynamic Pricing with Search Frictions," Vienna Economics Papers 1703, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    2. Marleen Marra, 2019. "Pricing and Fees in Auction Platforms with Two-Sided Entry," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2020-02, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    3. Matthew Backus & Gregory Lewis, 2016. "Dynamic Demand Estimation in Auction Markets," NBER Working Papers 22375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Zhang, Hanzhe, 2019. "Prices versus Auctions in Large Markets," Working Papers 2019-13, Michigan State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Marleen Marra, 2019. "Pricing and Fees in Auction Platforms with Two-Sided Entry," Sciences Po publications 2020-02, Sciences Po.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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