Buying and selling information under competition

Yi Xiang (First Author), Miklos Sarvary (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal


Markets for information products exhibit varying degrees of competition on both the supply and the demand side. This paper studies the potential complementarity of information products, equilibrium information buying behaviors and information price setting in such markets. Our game-theoretic model consists of two information providers selling imperfect information to two competing clients and allows for different information quality levels as well as varying degrees of client competition. Absent of client competition, information providers compete on the statistical properties of the information they supply (i.e., the accuracy of the information). The competitive price can be high because of potential complementarity among information products when these are not very reliable. However, this may change when the clients are competing against each other. We adopt a reduced-form model of buyer competition that reflects situations where information buyers face discrete alternatives. We find that a buyer gains more through information acquisition when its competitor is less informed, suggesting a first mover advantage in information acquisition. More importantly, we also find that intense client competition can make the information products more substitutable, resulting in a lower equilibrium price for information. Furthermore, this effect leads to harsh competition between information providers and consequently provides incentives for exclusive contracting. In summary, it is found that the “quality” of information has a very different impact on sellers’ profits depending on the degree of client competition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-351
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Corresponding author email


  • Complements
  • Exclusive contracts
  • Information asymmetry
  • Information industry
  • Strategic substitutes

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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