Price Discrimination with Varying Qualities of Information
Forthcoming, B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy
28 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2013 Last revised: 13 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 2, 2015
Advances in information technology have greatly enhanced firms' ability to collect, market and utilize consumer information. As the market for consumer information expands rapidly, businesses are armed with unprecedented means to target any group of consumers they desire. This has important and far-reaching impacts on consumer welfare. In this paper we analyze the welfare impacts of price discrimination facilitated by increasing qualities of consumer information. We employ a two-dimensional spatial differentiation model where consumer information is available on one dimension, and better information leads to more refined price discrimination. We find that as information quality improves, equilibrium prices and profits monotonically increase while consumer surplus and social surplus monotonically decrease. Price discrimination has a reduced demand elasticity effect which becomes stronger when consumer information becomes more precise. Our results suggest that regulators need to pay more attention to the potential damage to consumer welfare by the increasing collection and utilization of consumer information. We also endogenize firms' information acquisition decisions.
Keywords: Multi-dimension; Price discrimination; Information quality; Reduced demand elasticity effect
JEL Classification: D43, L13, L40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation