Pricing and Product Positioning with Relative Consumer Preferences

Frequent price promotions force consumers to continuously reassess their preferences over product offerings. When this leads consumers to exhibit a bias of "relative thinking", such as may be triggered by a focus only on the most salient product attribute, we show in a model of sales (Varian [1980]) that this profoundly alters firms' pricing and product-positioning strategies. Vertical differentiation becomes more likely, with firms preferring to occupy the low-quality space in particular when they have few loyal consumers. More generally, product positioning now depends on the composition of consumers' consideration sets.