J. Miguel Villas-Boas
This paper considers dynamic competition in the case in which consumers are only able to learn about their preferences for a certain product after experiencing it. After trying a product a consumer has more information about that product than about untried products. When competing in such a market firms with more sales in the past have an informational advantage because more consumers know their products. If products provide a better-than-expected fit with greater likelihood, taking advantage of that informational advantage may lead to an informational disadvantage in the future. This paper considers this competition with an infinite horizon model in a duopoly market with overlapping generations of consumers. Two effects are identified: On one hand marginal forward-looking consumers realize that by purchasing a product in the current period will be charged a higher expected price in the future. This effect results in reduced price sensitivity and higher equilibrium prices. On the other hand, forward-looking firms realize that they gain in the future from having a greater market share in the current period and compete more aggressively in prices. For similar discount factors for consumers and firms, the former effect is more important, and prices are higher the greater the informational advantages. The paper also characterizes oscillating market share dynamics, and comparative statics of the equilibrium with respect to consumer and firm patience, and the importance of the experience in the ex post valuation of the product.