33 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2005
Date Written: August 14, 2006
The advent of the Internet has revolutionized the way companies advertise, develop and distribute products. Firms can now customize their advertising messages and products to the particular characteristics and needs of customers. Customers themselves can create their own products. We investigate investments by firms in product customization capabilities within a duopoly model of horizontal product differentiation. We find that i) if brand name effects are not too strong, one firm emerges as a leader in product customization - firms make asymmetric investments in product customization technologies in order to reduce price competition, ii) if brand name effects are strong, both firms make extensive investments in product customization, and iii) the possibility of product customization can raise industry profits if brand names are weak, but not when they are strong.
Keywords: Product customization, Information acquisition, Brand name effects, Horizontal differentiation
JEL Classification: D43, L13, O30
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