Strategic Obfuscation and Retail Pricing

Timothy J. Richards, Gordon J. Klein, Celine Bonnet, Zohra Bouamra-Mechemache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Consumer-product manufacturers—and retailers that sell their products—often sell slightly differentiated items for reasons other than appealing to heterogeneous tastes—different sizes of a popular brand, or different flavors in a common product line for instance. We argue that this practice is a form of strategic obfuscation, which is intended to make price-comparison more difficult, and thereby raise margins on non-comparable products. We test our hypothesis with the use of examples from consumer-packaged good categories in German and French retail scanner data. We find that—after controlling for other explanations for how margins can vary with package size and type—we cannot rule out strategic obfuscation as a feature of our retail sales data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-889
Number of pages31
JournalReview of Industrial Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Differentiation
  • Price discrimination
  • Retail pricing
  • Strategic obfuscation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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