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Strategic Firms and Endogenous Consumer Emulation

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  • Philipp Kircher

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Andrew Postlewaite

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Better informed consumers may be treated preferentially by firms since their consumption serves as a quality signal for other customers. For normal goods this results in wealthy individuals being treated better than poor individuals. We investigate this phenomenon in an equilibrium model of social learning with heterogeneous consumers and firms that act strategically. Consumers search for high quality firms and condition their choices on observed actions of other consumers. When they observe consumers who are more likely to have identified a high quality firm, uninformed individuals will optimally emulate those consumers. One group of consumers arises endogenously as “leaders” whose consumption behavior is emulated. Follow-on sales induce firms to give preferential treatment to these lead consumers, which reinforces their learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipp Kircher & Andrew Postlewaite, 2008. "Strategic Firms and Endogenous Consumer Emulation," PIER Working Paper Archive 08-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:08-003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Amador, Manuel & Weill, Pierre-Olivier, 2012. "Learning from private and public observations of othersʼ actions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(3), pages 910-940.
    2. Belleflamme, Paul & Omrani, Nessrine & Peitz, Martin, 2015. "The economics of crowdfunding platforms," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 11-28.
    3. Stone, Daniel F. & Miller, Steven J., 2013. "Leading, learning and herding," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 222-231.
    4. Friedrichsen, Jana, 2016. "Signals sell: Designing a product line when consumers have social image concerns," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2016-202, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Search; social learning; consumption signalling;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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