SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Most goods and services vary in numerous dimensions. Customers choose to acquire information to assess some characteristics and not others. Their choices affect firms' incentives to invest in quality and so lead to indirect externalities in consumers' choices. We characterize a model in which a monopolist invests in the quality of a product with two characteristics, and consumers are heterogeneous ex-ante. Consumers do not internalize their influence on the firm's investment incentives when choosing which information to acquire. Cheaper information affects consumers' information gathering and thereby firm investment. This can paradoxically reduce consumer surplus, profits, and welfare.