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Heterogeneous consumers, search and retail formats

Mingming Shi () and Xiao Yan ()
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Mingming Shi: Business School, Renmin University of China
Xiao Yan: Business School, Renmin University of China

Frontiers of Business Research in China, 2017, vol. 11, issue 1, 1-16

Abstract: Abstract This paper proposes a model featuring the heterogeneity of consumer preferences and analyzes the multiple equilibrium of retail formats by building a map of the relationships between consumer heterogeneity and retail formats. The key questions analyzed in this paper are how the retailer adjusts its combination of marketing elements through repositioning and how innovation in retail formats is implemented to match consumers’ heterogeneous preferences in a market with consumer search costs. Unlike recent research, our model, by taking different consumer preference structures into account, introduces consumer psychological costs into the Ehrlich-Fisher model and deduces the existence of different retail formats and their multiple equilibriums. We find that consumer heterogeneity, retailers’ diversified transfer costs and economies of scale are endogenous drivers of prosperous retail formats. Accordingly, diversified retail formats with complementary functions and differentiated services can be described as the horizontal extensions and interface changes of the retailing industry.

Keywords: Consumer heterogeneity; Retail formats; Search; Psychological cost; L81; L88; M21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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