A Model of Multi-Pass Search: Price Search Across Stores and Time

53 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2020

See all articles by Navid Mojir

Navid Mojir

Harvard Business School

K. Sudhir

Yale School of Management; Yale University-Department of Economics; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: February 25, 2020


In retail settings with price promotions, consumers often search across stores and time. However the search literature typically only models one pass search across stores, ignoring revisits to stores; the choice literature using scanner data has modeled search across time, but not search across stores in the same model. We develop a multi-pass search model that jointly endogenizes search in both dimensions; our model nests a finite horizon model of search across stores within an infinite horizon model of inter-temporal search. We apply our model to milk purchases at grocery stores; hence the model also accounts for repeat purchases across time, inventory holding by households and grocery basket effects. We note that the special case without these additional features can be used to study one time purchases with repeat store visits as in the case of durable goods and online shopping. We formulate the empirical model as a mathematical program with equilibrium constraints (MPEC) and estimate it allowing for latent class heterogeneity using an iterative E-M algorithm. In contrast to extant research, we find that omitting the temporal dimension underestimates price elasticity. We attribute this difference to the relative frequency of household stockouts and purchase frequency in the milk category. Interestingly, increasing the promotional frequency (while reducing its depth to maintain the mean and variance of prices across all stores) can increase loyalty to the household’s preferred store.

Keywords: Consumer Search, Multi-pass Search, Price Search, Store Search, Spatial Search, Temporal Search, Spatiotemporal Search, Dynamic Structural Models, MPEC, Price Promotions, Store Loyalty

JEL Classification: L81, M31, D12

Suggested Citation

Mojir, Navid and Sudhir, K., A Model of Multi-Pass Search: Price Search Across Stores and Time (February 25, 2020). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1942R2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3543823 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3543823

Navid Mojir

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

K. Sudhir (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-3289 (Phone)
203-432-3003 (Fax)

Yale University-Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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