Intertemporal pricing with boundedly rational consumers

Wenbo Cai, Ying Ju Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Flexible pricing plans are commonly observed in service industries. In this article, we argue that the presence of flexible pricing plans can be attributed to consumers being boundedly rational - these consumers do not always select the best available option; rather, they select better options more often. In our model, the seller faces consumers who are heterogeneous in their degrees of intertemporal inconsistency - their ultimate actions can be different from their intended actions. We show that, in response to these boundedly rational consumers the seller may be able to extract more profit by setting different prices in different periods and allowing the consumers to self-select which period to pay. Moreover, a single pricing plan may emerge as an optimal pricing scheme even when the consumers are heterogeneous in their degrees of rationality and the seller is not fully aware of the consumers types. We further show that the pricing patterns depend primarily on the relative discounting factor between the seller and the consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-452
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Revenue and Pricing Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


  • bounded rationality
  • intertemporal choice
  • mechanism design
  • quantal-response


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