Are Consumers Strategic? Structural Estimation from the Air-Travel Industry
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
Nelson F. Granados
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management
January 14, 2013
INSEAD Working Paper No. 2013/03//TOM/ACGRE
Many consumers have learned to delay purchases, anticipating that prices might decrease. Such strategic or forward-looking behavior has attracted increasing attention from various disciplines, including operations management, information systems, marketing, and economics. However, there is currently limited empirical evidence of the extent to which this strategic purchasing actually takes place. Combining two unique data sources from the air-travel industry (posted fare data and booking data), we use a structural model to estimate the fraction of strategic consumers in the population, assuming di erent levels of sophistication in consumers' perception of future prices: perfect foresight and weak- and strong-form rational expectations. We find that 5.2% to 19.2% of the population is strategic across markets, measured by the rst and third quartiles. Our inter-market analysis indicates that shorter trips with more attractive outside options are populated with more strategic consumers. Using a non-parametric approach, we further find that most strategic consumers arrive either at the beginning of the booking horizon or close to departure. Finally, our counterfactual analysis shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the presence of strategic consumers does not necessarily hurt revenues. Rather, the impact varies by market. Commitment to a non-decreasing pricing strategy will likely benefit business markets but hurt leisure markets. Inter-market analysis shows that city-pairs with lower internet penetration, higher average price and shorter distances tend to benefit more from such commitment as well.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41working papers series
Date posted: October 5, 2011 ; Last revised: January 14, 2013
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