I have (what I believe to be) a microeconomics question that I'd like to explore:

How long are consumers willing to wait to find a bargain on an item they'd like to purchase?

I believe the question is easy to understand, but I'm unsure of the methodology to collect proper and relevant data to solve the question.

The answer, I'm sure, is a bit complicated. Though I'm not completely certain, I suspect the relationship is such that time, $t$, is a function of the change in price, $\Delta P$, of a given item (i.e.,$\quad f:\Delta P \rightarrow t).$ The price change could be relative or absolute.

There might be a schedule of different coefficients, depending on the price bracket of different items. For example, one class would include items that many households could afford on a weekly basis (video games, books, t-shirts, etc.), while another class would include items that the average household doesn't buy every week or year (refrigerators, cars, overseas vacations, etc.), and another class would include luxurious items that only the top 2-5% percentile of income earners could afford (court-side tickets to a basketball game, a Ferrari, a bottle of Dom Perignon, etc).

So here's my question to the community here: does anyone know of any study or previous work that addresses this question? If not, does anyone know how I could go about researching this topic? I guess "SurveyMonkey" would be one route, but it seems like a daunting task, considering how many variables I might have to account for.

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    $\begingroup$ In theory, what you describe is similar to job search in labor markets. This Wikipedia entry and this paper would probably get you caught up with the theories. $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


Check this paper out:

The Value of Time Spent in Price-Comparison Shopping: Survey and Experimental Evidence Author(s): Howard Marmorstein, Dhruv Grewal and Raymond P. H. Fishe Source: Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jun., 1992), pp. 52-61

With a bit of hand-waving, you can say that consumers are willing to search as long as value of time < amount saved.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah this paper is the topic I was thinking of for the answer. It's a model that I remember covering in my intermediate microeconomics class. Well done! $\endgroup$
    – user4973
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:09

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