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Equilibrium price dispersion with heterogeneous searchers

Chen, Yongmin and Zhang, Tianle (2009): Equilibrium price dispersion with heterogeneous searchers.

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Abstract

Firms simultaneously set prices in a homogeneous-product market where uninformed consumers search for price information. Some uninformed consumers are local searchers who visit only one seller, possibly due to high search costs or bounded rationality; whereas others search sequentially with an optimal reservation price. Equilibrium prices may follow a mixture distribution, with clusters of high and low prices separated by a zero-density gap. The presence of local searchers raises prices for high-value products but can lower prices for low-value products. A reduction in search cost sometimes leads to higher equilibrium prices.

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