Niche products, generic products, and consumer search
MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany
We endogenize product differentiation in a model of sequential search with random firm-consumer match value à la Wolinsky (1986) and Anderson and Renault (1999). We focus on a product design choice by which a firm can control the dispersion of consumer valuations for its product; we interpret low dispersion products as ‘generic’ and high dispersion products as ‘nichy.’ Equilibrium product design depends on a feedback loop: when reservation utility is high (low), the marginal customer’s match improves (worsens) with more nichy products, encouraging high (low) differentiation by firms. In turn, when firms offer more nichy products, this induces more intense search; depending on search costs, this could raise or lower consumers’ reservation utility. Remarkably, when the match distribution satisfies a hazard rate condition, firm and consumer interests align: equilibrium product design always adjusts to the level that maximizes utility. When this condition is not met, either multiple equilibria (one nichy, the other generic) or one asymmetric equilibrium (generic and nichy firms coexist) can arise; we argue that the former is more likely for common specifications of consumer preferences.
Keywords: product differentiation; product design; search (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D43 D83 L15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008, Revised 2011
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/32161/1/MPRA_paper_32161.pdf original version (application/pdf)
Journal Article: Niche products, generic products, and consumer search (2013)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:pra:mprapa:32161
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Joachim Winter ().