In many markets buyers are poorly informed about which firms sell the product (product availability) and prices, and therefore have to spend time to obtain this information. In contrast, sellers typically have a better idea about which rivals offer the product. Information asymmetry between buyers and sellers on product availability, rather than just prices, has not been scrutinized in the literature on consumer search. We propose a theoretical model that incorporates this kind of information asymmetry into a simultaneous search model. Our key finding is that greater product availability may harm buyers by mitigating their willingness to search and, thus, softening competition.

Atayev, Atabek (2021), Uncertain Product Availability in Search Markets, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 21-089, Mannheim. Download


Consumer Search; Uncertain Product Availability; Information Asymmetry