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Signals sell: Designing a product line when consumers have social image concerns

Jana Friedrichsen ()

No SP II 2016-202, Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior from WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Abstract: One important function of consumption is for consumers to show off their taste, virtue or wealth. While empirical observations suggest that producers take this into account, existing research has concentrated on analyzing the demand side. This paper investigates how a monopolist optimally designs its product line when consumers differ both in their taste for quality and their desire for a positive social image. The monopolist distorts qualities and prices to allocate images to consumers. It generically pools consumers with different tastes because high-taste consumers lend a positive image to the product of their choice and thereby increase the product's value to others. Often, average quality is lower than in a market without image concerns and there is underprovision as compared to the welfare-maximizing allocation. Although average quality is higher in a competitive market, welfare typically is not.

Keywords: image motivation; conspicuous consumption; two-dimensional screening; mechanism design (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D21 D82 L15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-com, nep-cta and nep-mkt
Date: 2016
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

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