Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2015: Ökonomische Entwicklung - Theorie und Politik - Session: Monopoly and Oligopoly D24-V2
Consumers buy products even if they find it too time-consuming to evaluate products carefully. I present a simple market model with sequential consumer search and differentiated products in which consumers may purchase products without evaluation. In a market with evaluation cost heterogeneity and endogenous consumer participation, market prices and profits may fall with increasing product diversity. Resulting concerns that the market may fail to provide the welfare optimal variety of products are gratuitous if product diversity is endogenized. Firms find it nonetheless individually rational to offer niche products. I endogenize evaluation costs and interpret this as the firms opportunity to aggravate the acquisition of information by obfuscation. A firm s equilibrium strategy whether to obfuscate product information is monotonic in product diversity: while obfuscation is individually rational for high product diversity, firms simplify information acquisition if product diversity is low.