The Value of Competitor Information: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Dr. Hyunjin Kim
Assistant Professor of Strategy
INSEAD Business School
To what extent are firms knowledgeable of available information on key competitor decisions, and how does competitor information change their own strategic choices? These questions are fundamental to understanding how firms compete and make strategic decisions, yet systematic evidence on them remains limited. I designed a field experiment across 3,218 firms in the personal care industry, where firms randomly assigned to treatment received easily accessible information on competitor prices. At baseline, nearly half of treatment firms were unable to specify competitor prices. However, once treatment firms received competitor information, they were more likely to change their prices, aligning their decisions with competitors rather than differentiating from them. These changes were driven by firms that were more misaligned in their price and quality decisions, and treatment firms subsequently observed higher measures of performance. If competitor information was both easily accessible and decision-relevant, why did firms not use this information on their own? Results from a follow-up experiment suggest that their lack of knowledge may have been driven by managerial inattention. These findings highlight the role that attention may play over information access in improving firm decisions, and suggest that the growing availability of competitor data across many markets may lead firms to become increasingly similar.