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Markets with Search and Switching Costs

Author

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  • Wilson, Chris

Abstract

By incorporating the additional existence of switching costs into an oligopoly search model by Stahl (1989), this paper dispels the misleading idea that search costs can simply be treated as a form of switching cost. Due to the assumption that search costs, unlike switching costs, are incurred unconditionally on the decision to switch suppliers it is shown that the anticompetitive effects of search costs are consistently larger than those from an equivalent level of switching costs. The finding suggests that obfuscation practices that aim to deter consumers from searching, such as competing on deliberately complex tariffs, may be particularly powerful relative to practices that increase the costs of substitution between firms, such as loyalty programs or termination fees.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilson, Chris, 2006. "Markets with Search and Switching Costs," MPRA Paper 131, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Oct 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:131
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/131/1/MPRA_paper_131.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nickolay V. Moshkin & Ron Shachar, 2002. "The Asymmetric Information Model of State Dependence," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(4), pages 435-454, August.
    2. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
    3. Waterson, Michael, 2003. "The role of consumers in competition and competition policy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-150, February.
    4. Per Baltzer Overgaard & Peter Møllgaard, 2005. "Information Exchange, Market Transparency and Dynamic Oligopoly," CIE Discussion Papers 2005-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
    5. Kim, Moshe & Kliger, Doron & Vale, Bent, 2003. "Estimating switching costs: the case of banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 25-56, January.
    6. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2009. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 427-452, March.
    7. Weitzman, Martin L, 1979. "Optimal Search for the Best Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 641-654, May.
    8. Maarten C. W. Janssen & José Luis Moraga-González, 2004. "Strategic Pricing, Consumer Search and the Number of Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1089-1118.
    9. Chris M. Wilson, 2005. "The Effects of Consumer Protection on Sales Signs, Consumer Search and Competition," Industrial Organization 0510007, EconWPA.
    10. Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Competition over agents with boundedly rational expectations," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 207-231, June.
    11. Klemperer, Paul D, 1987. "Entry Deterrence in Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 99-117, Supplemen.
    12. Monica Giulietti & Catherine Waddams Price & Michael Waterson, 2005. "Consumer Choice and Competition Policy: a Study of UK Energy Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 949-968, October.
    13. Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2005. "Truly costly sequential search and oligopolistic pricing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 451-466, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Search costs; Switching costs; Obfuscation;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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