No-regret Learning in Price Competitions under Consumer Reference Effects

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Negin Golrezaei, Patrick Jaillet, Jason Cheuk Nam Liang


<p>We study long-run market stability for repeated price competitions between two firms, where consumer demand depends on firms' posted prices and consumers’ price expectations called reference prices. Consumers' reference prices vary over time according to a memory-based dynamic, which is a weighted average of all historical prices. We focus on the setting where firms are not aware of demand functions and how reference prices are formed but have access to an oracle that provides a measure of consumers' responsiveness to the current posted prices. We show that if the firms run no-regret algorithms, in particular, online mirror descent (OMD), with decreasing step sizes, the market stabilizes in the sense that firms' prices and reference prices converge to a stable Nash Equilibrium (SNE). Interestingly, we also show that there exist constant step sizes under which the market stabilizes. We further characterize the rate of convergence to the SNE for both decreasing and constant OMD step sizes.</p>