Why are people panic buying?

In times of crisis, consumers quickly change their behaviour as they attempt to adapt to unfolding situations. During this rapidly evolving event, we'd like to share our thoughts on what is driving people to change their behaviour and consider how businesses can respond.

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Conduct risk management—high five?

Financial services providers around Europe are subject to clear expectations from regulators regarding conduct risk (or ‘the risk of misconduct’ that can cause poor consumer outcomes or undermine market stability or competition). What are these expectations, and how can providers meet them? In our experience, managing conduct risk requires a new toolkit based on behavioural economics, business model analysis, machine learning, competition economics, and good governance.

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Putting the genie back in the bottle—deposit return schemes on plastics

In March 2018 the UK government announced a plan to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic, glass and metal drinks containers in England. Aimed at curbing pollution by stimulating recycling, the scheme will be consulted on later this year, and will bring England into line with many other EU countries that already have such schemes. From a traditional and a behavioural economics perspective, what conditions are necessary in order for these schemes to achieve the intended policy objectives?

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Four-ever? Competition remedies in the audit market

This article was nominated for the 2019 Antitrust Writing Awards. In light of recent accounting scandals, there are widespread calls for the UK competition authority to re-examine the audit market. Yet spending a substantial amount of resources on a market...

A promise of protection: a behavioural experiment into pension decisions

How does the presence of consumer protection affect decisions at retirement? Oxera undertook a behavioural experiment for the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to understand the role of FSCS protection—in both how consumers select their retirement income products, and whether they choose to obtain financial advice. This revealed how people behave in a realistic environment, providing insight into actual consumer behaviour and the importance of the FSCS in their decision-making

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Moonshots and market failures: the economics of space

A variety of new and old companies are looking to invest in space applications. From space tourism to on-demand meteor showers for that special occasion, entrepreneurs and investors are trying to understand the economics of space. Investing in space technology is costly and uncertain, but has the potential to generate large economic gains, such as those enabled by GPS technologies, satellite photography and earth observation. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s explore that final frontier…

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The science of misbehaving: Richard Thaler wins the Nobel Prize

Richard Thaler has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for his contributions to behavioural economics. His work on mental accounting, self-control and ‘nudging’ are stand-out achievements. Thaler’s work from the late 1970s to the present day reflects a combination of collaboration and determination, and has affected government and regulatory policy around the world

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Goodbye tension, hello pension! Metrics to help consumers choose the best deals

In July 2017, Oxera and CESS published the results of an experiment to identify the effectiveness of different summary cost metrics (information about total costs) in aiding consumer selection of income drawdown pension products. The study, commissioned by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), shines some light on how consumers respond to cost metrics and how, in this case, simplicity is not necessarily the most effective approach

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Using conjoint analysis in merger cases: a competition practitioner’s perspective

If applied correctly, conjoint analysis can be a powerful tool in merger cases, as it can overcome the artificial nature of hypothetical ‘what-if’ questions. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has used this survey technique in six merger cases to date. Marinus Imthorn, Ron Kemp and Ivo Nobel of the ACM illustrate how it can be used effectively to estimate customer behaviour, and share some lessons from their experience

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Shrinkflation! A bite missing?

While the price of a Toblerone bar has not changed in recent years, its size has—between 2009 and 2010, a standard bar became 30g lighter (from 200g to 170g), and by 2016 it had shrunk to 150g. What factors lead a firm to pass on a cost shock by changing the size of a product rather than its price? And what effect does this have on consumers and inflation statistics?

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