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Optimal Search and Awareness Expansion

Rafael P. Greminger

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Abstract: This paper introduces a search problem where a consumer has to first become aware of an alternative, before being able to search it. Initially, the consumer is aware of only a few alternatives. During search, the consumer sequentially decides between searching alternatives he is already aware of and expanding awareness to discover more products. I show that the optimal policy for this search problem is fully characterized by simple reservation values. Moreover, I prove that the purchase outcome of a consumer optimally solving the search problem is equivalent to the consumer simply choosing the product offering the largest value on a predetermined index.

Date: 2019-11
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