Spatial models of heterogeneous switching costs

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 03 November 2017

Staff Working Paper No. 689

Paolo Siciliani and Walter Beckert

The presence of sticky, often labelled ‘unengaged’, consumers is arguably one of the most intractable issues faced by competition regulators, in that it entrenches incumbency advantage. We develop a spatial linear model of heterogeneous switching costs that allows for asymmetric distributions of heterogeneous switching costs. We not only model uniform pricing and history-based price discrimination, but also the impact of regulatory intervention aimed at making it easier for customers to be upgraded to a better tariff from their current service provider, something we call ‘leakage’. Finally, we analyse firms’ incentive to adopt history-based price discrimination and voluntarily permit ‘leakage’.

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