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Deceptive Advertising with Rational Buyers

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Abstract

We study a Bertrand game where two sellers supplying products of different and unverifiable qualities can outwit potential clients through (costly) deceptive advertising. We characterize a class of pooling equilibria where sellers post the same price regardless of their quality and low quality ones deceive buyers. Although in these equilibria low quality goods are purchased with positive probability, the buyer’s (expected) utility can surprisingly be higher than in a fully separating equilibrium, which suggests that (absent price regulation) a per se rule banning deceptive practices may harm consumers. We also argue that sellers invest more in deceptive advertising the better their reputation vis-à-vis potential clients – i.e., firms that are better trusted by customers, have greater incentives to invest in deceptive advertising. Finally, we characterize the optimal monitoring effort exerted by a regulatory agency who seeks to identify and punish deceptive practices. We show that consumer surplus maximization requires a higher monitoring e¤ort than social welfare maximization.

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  • Giovanni Ursino & Salvatore Piccolo & Piero Tedeschi, 2013. "Deceptive Advertising with Rational Buyers," CSEF Working Papers 348, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:348
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    Cited by:

    1. Ursino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore & Tedeschi, Piero, 2012. "Deceptive advertising with rational buyers," MPRA Paper 42553, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Salvatore Piccolo & Aldo Pignataro, 2016. "Consumer Loss Aversion, Product Experimentation and Implicit Collusion," CSEF Working Papers 457, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    3. Salvatore Piccolo & Piero Tedeschi & Giovanni Ursino, 2015. "How limiting deceptive practices harms consumers," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(3), pages 611-624, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Misleading Advertising; Deception; Bayesian Consumers; Asymmetric Information;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies

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