Does Price Elasticity Vary with Economic Growth? A Cross-Category Analysis
, Avi Goldfarb and Yang Li
How does price sensitivity change with the macroeconomic environment? The authors explore this question by measuring price elasticity using household-level data across 19 grocery categories over 24 quarters. For each category, they estimate a separate random coefficients logit model with quarter-specific price response parameters and control functions to address endogeneity. This specification yields a novel set of 456 elasticities across categories and time that are generated using the same method and therefore can be directly compared. On average, price sensitivity is countercyclical: It rises when the macroeconomy weakens. However, substantial variation exists, and a handful of categories exhibit procyclical price sensitivity. The authors show that the relationship between price sensitivity and macroeconomic growth correlates strongly with the average level of price sensitivity in a category. They examine several explanations for this result and conclude that a category's share of wallet is the more likely driver versus alternative explanations based on product perishability, substitution across consumption channels, or market power.
, Avi Goldfarb and Yang Li. 2013. Does Price Elasticity Vary with Economic Growth? A Cross-Category Analysis. Journal of Marketing Research. 50(1): 4-23 (lead article).