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Beliefs and Consumer Search in a Vertical Industry

Author

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  • Janssen, Maarten
  • Shelegia, Sandro

Abstract

This paper studies vertical relations in a search market. As the wholesale arrangement between a manufacturer and its retailers is typically unobserved by consumers, their beliefs about who is to be blamed for a price deviation play a crucial role in determining wholesale and retail prices. The common assumption in the consumer search literature is that consumers exclusively blame an individual retailer for a price deviation. We show that in the vertical relations context, predictions based on this assumption are not robust in the sense that if consumers assign just a small probability to the event that the upstream manufacturer is responsible for the deviation, equilibrium predictions are qualitatively different. For the robust beliefs, the vertical model can explain a variety of observations, such as retail price rigidity (or, alternatively, low cost pass-through), non-monotonicity of retail prices in search costs, and (seemingly) collusive retail behavior. The model can be used to study a monopoly online platform that sells access to final consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Janssen, Maarten & Shelegia, Sandro, 2017. "Beliefs and Consumer Search in a Vertical Industry," MPRA Paper 85134, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:85134
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
    2. Cabral, Luís & Fishman, Arthur, 2012. "Business as usual: A consumer search theory of sticky prices and asymmetric price adjustment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 371-376.
    3. repec:bla:randje:v:48:y:2017:i:2:p:358-386 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Karle, Heiko & Peitz, Martin & Reisinger, Markus, 2017. "Segmentation versus Agglomeration: Competition between Platforms with Competitive Sellers," CEPR Discussion Papers 12435, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Dmitry Lubensky, 2011. "A Model of Recommended Retail Prices," Working Papers 2011-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    6. Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "True Monopolistic Competition as a Result of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 493-511.
    7. Joshua Sherman & Avi Weiss, 2015. "Price Response, Asymmetric Information and Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(589), pages 2077-2115, December.
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    9. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    10. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "Can Small Deviations from Rationality Make Significant Differences to Economic Equilibria?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 708-720, September.
    11. Jidong Zhou, 2014. "Multiproduct Search and the Joint Search Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2918-2939, September.
    12. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
    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

    Vertical Relations; Consumer Search; Double Marginalization; Product Differentiation; Price Rigidities;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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