J. Miguel Villas-Boas

Models of Competitive Price Promotions: Some Empirical Evidence from the Coffee andSaltine Crackers Markets

I present tests of a competitive rationale for price promotions. In a model with a population of informed and uninformed customers, price competition yields a static equilibrium in which each seller draws a price from a specified density function. Price data on coffee and saltine crackers products are used to test whether the sample of prices on each product could have possibly come from the theoretically specified density function. The results suggest that some markets are indeed consistent with the marginal distributions of prices predicted by the model. Furthermore, in the process of testing this rationale for price promotions, estimates are obtained for the marginal cost of each product, the number of competing goods, and the percentage of informed consumers. The resulting excess variability of these estimates across competing brands can also raise questions with respect to the empirical validity of the model.