Thursday, April 9, 2015

Service Competition and Product Quality in the U.S. Automobile Industry

GUAJARDO Jose A., COHEN Morris A., NETESSINE Serguei
Access the publisher's website Management Science (forthcoming)

We study the impact of service attributes (warranty length, after-sales service quality) on consumer demand in the U.S. automobile industry, examining the presence of complementarities/substitution between service attributes and product quality. Our results estimate a median willingness to pay for one year of warranty of about $850, which is equivalent to 3.1% of the median vehicle price in our sample. We find that, for a car with median characteristics, the e_ect on consumer utility of a 1% price decrease is equivalent, all else being equal, to increasing product quality by 2.2%, and is in turn equivalent to increasing the warranty length by 8%. Our results also indicate that service attributes play a compensatory role with respect to product quality, i.e., the impact of warranty length and service quality on demand increases when product quality decreases. Conversely, both service metrics are complementary with respect to demand, i.e., the better the service quality, the higher the marginal effect of longer warranties. Our results thus imply that, in our period of analysis, warranties played a more important role for american firms than for foreign firms, consistent with the fact that american manufacturers exhibited lower product quality and higher service quality than non-american firms.