Costly Search and Design

24 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2009

See all articles by Heski Bar-Isaac

Heski Bar-Isaac

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Guillermo Caruana

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI)

Vicente Cuñat

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Financial Markets Group

Date Written: April 8, 2009

Abstract

Firms compete by choosing both a price and a design from a family of designs that can be represented as demand rotations. Consumers engage in costly sequential search among firms. Each time a consumer pays a search cost he observes a new offering. An offering consists of a price quote and a new good, where goods might vary in the extent to which they are good matches for the consumer. In equilibrium, only two design- styles arise: either the most niche where consumers are likely to either love or loathe the product, or the broadest where consumers are likely to have similar valuations. In equilibrium, different firms may simultaneously offer both design-styles. We perform comparative statics on the equilibrium and show that a fall in search costs can lead to higher industry prices and profits and lower consumer surplus. Our analysis is related to discussions of how the internet has led to the prevalence of niche goods and the "long tail" phenomenon.

Keywords: Product design, search costs, long tail

JEL Classification: L10, D83, M31

Suggested Citation

Bar-Isaac, Heski and Caruana, Guillermo and Cuñat, Vicente, Costly Search and Design (April 8, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1435257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1435257

Heski Bar-Isaac

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416 978 3626 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/heskibarisaac/home

Guillermo Caruana

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI) ( email )

Casado del Alisal 5
28014 Madrid
Spain
34 91 429 0551 (Phone)
34 91 429 1056 (Fax)

Vicente Cuñat (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Financial Markets Group ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.vicentecunat.com

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