DP12326 | Word of Mouth Communication and Search

Publication Date

09/22/2017

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Abstract

In many economic contexts, the most credible source of information about the quality of products is one's friends. In this paper, we develop a word-of-mouth model of search for an experience good where the quality is unknown. We find the characteristics of the social net- work that result in exclusively low quality, a mixture of qualities and exclusively high-quality products. When consumer search is costly, an exclusively high-quality equilibrium is not possible. Moreover, markets may become stuck in a low-quality equilibrium when equilibria with better quality are possible. Market inefficiencies are characterized by an under-investment in friends and a market's misallocation of low-quality firms.