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Title: Essays on consumer behaviour and pricing
Author: Mahmood, Ammara
ISNI:       0000 0004 4957 2755
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation is a collection of five essays examining different aspects of consumer and firm behavior in dynamic markets. The first essay combines clickstreams of users at a major news website with Facebook activity data, to study if social networks complement or compete for online browsing time. This is the first empirical study to show that Facebook activity increases time spent on news sites. Online news consumption is a shared experience, as the activity of social network friends strongly influences the behavior of other network members. We also find that visitors’ own browsing patterns are important predictors of online content consumption. The second essay examines consumer attitudes to risk and uncertainty vis-a-vis their purchase and search decisions for air tickets online. Using a two-stage model of purchase incidence and carrier choice, we find that browsing experience, search costs and product characteristics are important predictors of purchase incidence. Implications for website managers are also discussed. The third essay provides insights on the impact of customer heterogeneity and preference stochasticity on behavior based price discrimination. While customer heterogeneity intensifies competition, resulting in greater price discrimination, preference stochasticity reduces the incidence of price discrimination. Overall, the effect of preference stochasticity is more salient. The fourth essay presents models of strategic interaction to analyze the impact of dominance and concentration on pricing strategies. We show that lack of market dominance is a sufficient condition for discounts to existing customers. We further test our predictions via an experiment with pricing professionals. The behavior of professionals confirms that price discrimination increases with market dominance and concentration; however, lack of dominance is not a sufficient condition for loyalty discounts. We contend that increasing competition is a more effective means of improving consumer welfare compared to regulating dominant firms. The fifth essay considers the role of identity and customer type recognition in influencing pricing behavior in dynamic markets with symmetric and asymmetric players. When customer identity is detectable firms charge higher prices to repeat customers while new customers are offered lower prices. However, pricing behavior changes when information on customer type is available and this behavior varies with market structure. Age, education and experience of managers are also found to significantly influence pricing behavior.
Supervisor: Vulkan, Nir Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Marketing ; Business ; Business and Management ; Internet research ; Internet and everyday life ; Price Discrimination ; Social Networks ; Consumer Search ; Content Consumption ; Pricing Strategy ; Experiments ; Choice Models