Price Signaling and Reputation Building: Evidence from a Consulting Platform
70 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2022 Last revised: 29 Sep 2022
Date Written: April 1, 2022
To build a reputation on online platforms, new firms need to accumulate reviews through sales and consider the corresponding pricing strategy. We construct a dynamic model with both price signaling and a review-based reputation system. A high-quality firm can signal its unobserved quality by setting a lower introductory price than that of a low-quality firm because the high-quality firm benefits more from accumulating reviews in early periods. Using data from Zaihang, a service platform, we find empirical evidence that experts with high unobserved ability indeed adopt low introductory prices. We use an expert's performance on another platform as an instrument for the expert's ability to provide evidence for the causal relationship. The price and sales dynamics in the data are also consistent with the model predictions. The platform can accelerate quality revelation by facilitating price signaling. To do so, platforms could make price comparison easier and provide training to new firms about signaling.
Keywords: asymmetric information, price signaling, reputation system, online platform
JEL Classification: D4, L15, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation