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Peer Effects in Product Adoption

Michael Bailey, Drew M. Johnston, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel and Arlene Wong ()

No 25843, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: We study the nature of peer effects in the market for new cell phones. Our analysis builds on de-identified data from Facebook that combine information on social networks with information on users' cell phone models. To identify peer effects, we use variation in friends' new phone acquisitions resulting from random phone losses and carrier-specific contract terms. A new phone purchase by a friend has a substantial positive and long-term effect on an individual's own demand for phones of the same brand, most of which is concentrated on the particular model purchased by the friend. We provide evidence that social learning contributes substantially to the observed peer effects. While peer effects increase the overall demand for cell phones, a friend's purchase of a new phone of a particular brand can reduce individuals' own demand for phones from competing brands---in particular those running on a different operating system. We discuss the implications of these findings for the nature of firm competition. We also find that stronger peer effects are exerted by more price-sensitive individuals. This positive correlation suggests that the elasticity of aggregate demand is substantially larger than the elasticity of individual demand. Through this channel, peer effects reduce firms' markups and, in many models, contribute to higher consumer surplus and more efficient resource allocation.

JEL-codes: D40 L1 L2 M3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ind and nep-pay
Note: AP CF DEV EEE EFG IO LE LS ME PE
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Working Paper: Peer effects in product adoption (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Peer Effects in Product Adoption (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Peer effects in product adoption (2018) Downloads
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