Consumer Search and Purchase: An Empirical Investigation of Retargeting Based on Consumer Online Behaviors

Marketing Science, Forthcoming

46 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2017 Last revised: 5 Sep 2020

See all articles by Zhenling Jiang

Zhenling Jiang

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Tat Chan

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Hai Che

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business

Youwei Wang

Fudan University - School of Management

Date Written: March 9, 2020

Abstract

This paper empirically investigates how marketers can retarget consumers who have searched online but did not purchase, based on their search behaviors. To infer the relationship between search activities and preferences, we estimate a structural search model that characterizes the consumer search process. We propose a GHK-type estimator to evaluate the likelihood function. The proposed estimator makes recursive draws from truncated distributions that arise because of the observed search and choice behaviors in an optimal sequential search model. The recovered preferences are used to improve retargeting strategies demonstrated through a series of counterfactuals. Results show a substantial heterogeneity in responses to retargeting among consumers who exhibited different search behaviors. In contrast, the heterogeneity among consumers based on other characteristics (e.g. age, gender etc.) is moderate. We consider two counterfactual marketing strategies: sending out coupons redeemed upon purchasing, and sending seller recommendations that reveal the offering of recommended sellers. We find that, while both strategies help increase the conversion rate, seller recommendations are more effective than coupons, suggesting the importance of providing consumers the seller information for retargeting. We also show that a pricing mechanism such as auctions making sellers self-select to participate will improve the effectiveness of retargeting. Finally, online retail platforms can benefit both sellers and consumers by providing sellers with the information on consumers' search behaviors.

Keywords: consumer retargeting, consumer search, sequential search, online shopping

JEL Classification: C50, D03, M31

Suggested Citation

Jiang, Zhenling and Chan, Tat and Che, Hai and Wang, Youwei, Consumer Search and Purchase: An Empirical Investigation of Retargeting Based on Consumer Online Behaviors (March 9, 2020). Marketing Science, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2897289

Zhenling Jiang (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Tat Chan

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Hai Che

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business ( email )

1309 East Tenth Street
Indianapolis, IN 47405-1701
United States

Youwei Wang

Fudan University - School of Management ( email )

No. 670, Guoshun Road
No.670 Guoshun Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

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