Price Competition with Optimal Product Demonstrations
42 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2013
Date Written: February 13, 2013
We develop a game theoretic model of price competition in which an innovating firm can offer product demonstrations. Placing minimal restriction on the firm’s ability to design demonstrations, we show that the equilibrium demonstration resolves some but not all customer valuation uncertainty and allows the innovating firm to attract customers while maintaining a high price. Consumer surplus may be lower with endogenous demonstrations than without demonstrations. Regulation requiring firms to provide fully-informative demonstrations (e.g., generous return policies or inspection periods) can further reduce consumer surplus. The ability to design demonstrations also creates incentives for innovating firms to limit the market appeal of their products, suggesting another mechanism through which product demonstrations can reduce market efficiency. The results have implications for firm management and pricing strategies and for consumer protection.
Keywords: price competition, Bayesian persuasion, product demonstrations, trial periods, return policies, test drives
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