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Reference Dependence and Market Competition

  • Zhou, Jidong

This paper studies the implications of consumer reference dependence in market competition. If consumers take some product (e.g., the first product they have considered) as the reference point in evaluating others and exhibit loss aversion, then the more "prominent" firm whose product is taken as the reference point by more consumers will randomize its price over a high and a low one. All else equal, this firm will on average earn a larger market share and a higher profit than its rival. The welfare impact is that consumer reference dependence could harm firms and benefit consumers by intensifying price competition. Consumer reference dependence will also shape firms' advertising strategies and quality choices. If advertising increases product prominence, ex ante identical firms may differentiate their advertising intensities. If firms vary in their prominence, the less prominent firm might supply a lower-quality product even if improving quality is costless.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/9370/1/MPRA_paper_9370.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 9370.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:9370
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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48, 02.
  2. Ran Spiegler, 2005. "Competition over Agents with Boundedly Rational Expectations," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000535, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Stefano Della Vigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402, May.
  4. Rosenkranz, Stephanie & Schmitz, Patrick W, 2004. "Reserve Prices in Auctions as Reference Points," CEPR Discussion Papers 4264, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  8. Lal, Rajiv & Matutes, Carmen, 1994. "Retail Pricing and Advertising Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67(3), pages 345-70, July.
  9. repec:use:tkiwps:0514 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Rubenstein, A., 1991. "On Price Recognition and Computational Complexity in a Monopolistic Model," Papers 35-91, Tel Aviv.
  11. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13, January.
  12. Johnson, Eric J, et al, 1993. " Framing, Probability Distortions, and Insurance Decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 35-51, August.
  13. Daniel S. Putler, 1992. "Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 287-309.
  14. Sobel, Joel, 1984. "The Timing of Sales," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 353-68, July.
  15. Gadi Fibich & Arieh Gavious & Oded Lowengart, 2007. "Optimal price promotion in the presence of asymmetric reference-price effects," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 569-577.
  16. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  17. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
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