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Product differentiation and cost pass‐through: industry‐wide versus firm‐specific cost shocks

Thomas Bittmann, Jens‐Peter Loy and Sven Anders ()

Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2020, vol. 64, issue 4, 1184-1209

Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of product differentiation on firm‐specific and industry‐wide cost pass‐through in grocery retailing. We use attribute distance measures to model product differentiation based on a unique set of retail scanner data for ready‐to‐eat soup products in the Canadian market. Results from a panel error correction model suggest that product differentiation explains a significant share of the variation in the rate of cost pass‐through across products. More differentiated products are associated with lower rates of cost pass‐through of industry‐wide and higher pass‐through of firm‐specific costs shocks. The findings validate an oligopolistic model of product differentiation, where firms use differentiation as a non‐price competitive factor in strategic pricing decisions.

Date: 2020
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https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.12399

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Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics is currently edited by John Rolfe, Lin Crase and John Tisdell

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