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Price Rigidity in Customer Markets


  • Jean-Robert Tyran


  • Elke Renner



Customer markets are characterized by long-term relations between buyers and sellers. Long-term relations evolve if buyers trust sellers to provide high quality and if sellers are trustworthy. However, changes in the terms of this implicit contract may antagonize customers and disrupt the relation. We experimentally show that mutually beneficial long-term relations frequently prevail in markets for experience goods, and that price rigidity after a temporary cost shock is much more pronounced if price increases cannot be justified by cost increases. Hence, long-term relations on customer markets mitigate market failure of the “lemons” type, but are prone to price stickiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Robert Tyran & Elke Renner, 2003. "Price Rigidity in Customer Markets," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2003 2003-16, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2003:2003-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2014. "Explicit Evidence of an Implicit Contract," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 804-832.
    2. Huck, Steffen & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2007. "Reciprocity, social ties, and competition in markets for experience goods," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 191-203, April.
    3. Nakamura, Emi & Steinsson, Jón, 2011. "Price setting in forward-looking customer markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 220-233.
    4. Kleshchelski, Isaac & Vincent, Nicolas, 2009. "Market share and price rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 344-352, April.
    5. Holger Herz & Armin Schmutzler & André Volk, 2016. "Cooperation and Mistrust in Relational Contracts," ECON - Working Papers 233, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    6. Andrew T. Young & Alexander K. Blue, 2007. "Retail prices during a change in monetary regimes: evidence from Sears, Roebuck catalogs, 1938-1951," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 763-775.
    7. Riedl, Arno & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2005. "Tax liability side equivalence in gift-exchange labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2369-2382, December.
    8. Pau Roldan & Sophia Gilbukh, 2017. "Firm Dynamics and Pricing under Customer Capital Accumulation," 2017 Meeting Papers 1235, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. M. Alper Cenesiz, 2007. "A New Cost Channel of Monetary Policy," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 68, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    10. Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2014. "Explicit Evidence of an Implicit Contract," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 804-832.
    11. Nicolas Vincent, 2012. "Price Stickiness in Customer Markets with Reference Prices," Cahiers de recherche 1230, CIRPEE.

    More about this item


    Customer market; price stickiness; customer loyalty;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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