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Prices And Price/Quality Relationships: A Longitudinal Analysis

D. Curry, P. Riesz
Published 1988 · Economics

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Though price and quality are recognized as important tactical and strategic variables for a marketing manager, few empirical data are available on the behavior of price or the correspondence between price and quality over time. The authors report results for three hypotheses derived from product life cycle theory, dynamic pricing policy, and economic information theory about price trends, price convergence, and the correspondence between price and quality among brands in 62 durable product forms. Results strongly confirm the hypotheses that prices converge as well as decrease in real terms. The decline in price variation apparently results from a narrowing of prices by all relevant competitors. Brands entering or exiting a category counterbalance one another and are nearly as likely to be priced below as above a category mean. Reduced correspondence between price and quality levels over time suggests that as pricing flexibility declines, competition may occur in the form of promotional expenditures rather than relative quality improvements. Implications of these findings for marketing strategy and consumer welfare are discussed.
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