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Price Competition and Consumer Confusion

  • Chioveanu, Ioana
  • Zhou, Jidong

This paper proposes a model in which identical sellers of a homogenous product compete in both prices and price frames (i.e., ways to present price information). We model price framing by assuming that firms’ frame choices affect the comparability of their price offers: consumers may fail to compare prices due to frame differentiation, and due to frame complexity. In the symmetric equilibrium the firms randomize over both price frames and prices, and make positive profits. This result is consistent with the observed coexistence of price and price frame dispersion in the market. We also show that (i) the nature of equilibrium depends on which source of consumer confusion dominates, and (ii) an increase in the number of firms can increase industry profits and harm consumers.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/17340/1/MPRA_paper_17340.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 17340.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17340
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  1. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eliaz, Kfir & Ok, Efe A., 2006. "Indifference or indecisiveness? Choice-theoretic foundations of incomplete preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-86, July.
  3. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and taxation: theory and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2009. "A Search Cost Model of Obfuscation," NBER Working Papers 15237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Baye, Michael R. & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G., 1992. "It takes two to tango: Equilibria in a model of sales," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 493-510, October.
  6. James J Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C Madrian, 2008. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002014, David K. Levine.
  7. Jennifer Brown & Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2010. "Shrouded Attributes and Information Suppression: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 859-876, May.
  8. Armstrong, Mark & Chen, Yongmin, 2007. "Inattentive Consumers and Product Quality," MPRA Paper 4797, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
  10. John Morgan & Tanjim Hossain, 2006. "...plus shipping and handling: Revenue (non) equivalence in field experiments on ebay," Natural Field Experiments 00270, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Competition over agents with boundedly rational expectations," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 207-231, June.
  12. Bertrand, Marianne & Karlan, Dean & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Shafir, Eldar & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," Working Papers 58, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  13. Maarten C. W. Janssen & José Luis Moraga-González, 2004. "Strategic Pricing, Consumer Search and the Number of Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 1089-1118, October.
  14. Spiegler, Ran, 2011. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195398717, March.
  15. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  16. Wilson, Chris M., 2010. "Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 496-506, September.
  17. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  18. Kalaycı, Kenan & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2012. "Complexity and Biases," Discussion Papers in Economics 13035, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  19. KalaycI, Kenan & Potters, Jan, 2011. "Buyer confusion and market prices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 14-22, January.
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