Product2Vec: Understanding Product-Level Competition Using Representation Learning
55 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020
Date Written: January 14, 2020
Studying competition and market structure at the product level instead of brand level can provide firms with insights on cannibalization and product line optimization. We introduce Product2Vec, a method based on representation learning, to study product-level competition when the number of products is large. The proposed model takes shopping baskets as inputs and, for every product, generates a low-dimensional vector that preserves important product information. Using these product vectors, we present several findings. First, we show that these vectors can recover analogies between product pairs. Second, we create two measures, complementarity and exchangeability, that allow us to determine whether product pairs are complements or substitutes. Third, we combine these vectors with traditional choice models to study product-level competition. To accurately estimate price elasticities, we modify the representation learning algorithm to remove the influence of price from the product vectors. We show that, compared with state-of-the-art choice models, our approach is faster and can produce more accurate demand forecasts and price elasticities. Fourth, we present two applications of Product2Vec to marketing problems: 1) analyzing intra- and inter-brand competition and 2) analyzing market structure. Overall, our results demonstrate that machine learning algorithms, such as representation learning, can be useful tools to augment and improve traditional marketing methods.
Keywords: machine learning, product competition, representation learning, choice models
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