Consumer Search, Steering and Choice Overload

Volker Nocke et Patrick Rey


We develop a model of within-firm sequential, directed search and study a firm’s ability and incentive to steer consumers. We find that the firm often ben- efits from adopting a noisy positioning strategy, which limits the information available to consumers. This induces consumers to keep searching but discour- ages some of them from visiting the firm. This occurs even though the firm and the consumers have in common the interest of maximizing the probability of trade. Because of such noisy positioning, an increase in the size of the product line further discourages consumers from visiting the firm—consistent with choice overload.


Consumer search; Sequential search; Directed search; Product Variety; Choice overload; Multiproduct firm; Platform; Steering;

Codes JEL

  • L12: Monopoly • Monopolization Strategies
  • L15: Information and Product Quality • Standardization and Compatibility
  • D42: Monopoly


Volker Nocke et Patrick Rey, « Consumer Search, Steering and Choice Overload », Journal of Political Economy, 2024, à paraître.

Publié dans

Journal of Political Economy, 2024, à paraître