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Advertising and Coordination

  • Kyle Bagwell
  • Garey Ramey

We show that when relevant market information such as price is difficult to communicate, advertising plays a key role in bringing about optimal coordination of purchase behavior: an efficient firm uses advertising expenditures in place of price to inform sophisticated consumers that it offers a better deal. This provides a theoretical explanation for Benham's (1972) empirical association of the ability to advertise with lower prices and larger scale. We find that advertising improves welfare unambiguously when firms' price choices are the only source of uncertainty. When advertising must also signal the identity of the efficient firm, however, a welfare tradeoff arises between advertising and coordination. Our results extend readily to situations of partial price observability and product quality uncertainty.

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File URL: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/papers/903.pdf
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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 903.

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Date of creation: Aug 1990
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:903
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, Northwestern University, 580 Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2014
Phone: 847/491-3527
Fax: 847/491-2530
Web page: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/
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  1. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
  2. Cady, John F, 1976. "An Estimate of the Price Effects of Restrictions on Drug Price Advertising," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 493-510, December.
  3. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1996. "Capacity, Entry, and Forward Induction," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 660-680, Winter.
  4. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  5. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1989. "Oligopoly Limit Pricing," Discussion Papers 829, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Kyle Bagwell, 1987. "Introductory Price as a Signal of Cost in a Model of Repeat Business," Discussion Papers 722, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Riordan, Michael H, 1984. "Advertising as a Signal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 427-50, June.
  8. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Benham, Lee, 1972. "The Effect of Advertising on the Price of Eyeglasses," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 337-52, October.
  10. Steven A Matthews & Doron Fertig, 1990. "Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Discussion Papers 881, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-41, August.
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