Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In my dissertation, I apply empirical quantitative methods to marketing research and investigate consumer online search and purchase patterns, as well as digital consumption behaviors and the potential implication for marketing managers. This dissertation consists of two chapters. Chapter 1 studies the consumer shopping channel choice when they search and shop for products online. Mobile phones have emerged as a major channel for online shopping as an alternative to PCs. Despite more consumers using mobile phones, the conversion rate on the mobile channel is lower than that on the PC channel. In this study, we propose a structural consumer search-and-purchase model that endogenizes the channel choice to explain the observed data pattern. Results suggest starting a search session using mobile phones is less costly, but intensive search is costlier. Consequently, mobile phones attract consumers who tend to have lower overall purchase interests and will search less. Based on the results, we use counterfactuals to explore how online retailers can customize their marketing strategies for consumers on the two channels. We find the optimal price on mobile is 2. 7% lower than on PC. When sellers retarget non-purchasers by offering channel-specific coupons, the optimal coupon value is 6% higher for consumers on mobile than on PC. Sellersՠprofit increase will be 5. 1% higher when the retargeting coupons are channel specific. Chapter 2 examines consumersՠtime-inconsistent preferences in digital content consumption and their strategic self-control behaviors. We use a unique dataset obtained from a major digital book platform in China, where consumers can pay either by chapters or by monthly subscription. One-third of consumers consistently choose to pay by chapters, even though monthly subscription would significantly reduce the monetary cost. We propose a dynamic structural model that incorporates time-inconsistent preferences and strategic self-control behaviors to rationalize overpaying behavior. We first analytically demonstrate the existence of a unique equilibrium, and show how, under steady states, overpaying for reading may be optimal for consumers. We then estimate the model from the data. Results show that there is a large segment of consumers who are highly price-sensitive. They are also willing to overpay to curb future consumption. Our counterfactuals show that eliminating the pay-per-chapter plan would hurt consumer welfare and the platformճ profit. Eliminating the monthly subscription plan, however, would increase the platformճ profit but reduce consumer welfare. We introduce a novel nonlinear pricing plan with volume surcharge and illustrate how it can simultaneously improve the platformճ profit and consumer welfare.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Tat Y. Chan

Committee Members

Macus Berliant, Werner Ploberger, Seethu Seetharaman,