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
Date Written: March 9, 2020
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: Suggested Citation