The current debate over the economics of advertising has long focused on two questions. The first concerns the impact of advertising on the relative positions of large and small firms in an industry and thereby on the state of competition. The second examines the role of advertising on consumer purchasing decisions over broad consumption categories. Comanor and Wilson use the modern tools of economic theory and statistics to build and test their hypotheses, and contribute important analytical and empirical evidence on the key issues.
The authors find that consumer decisions are affected substantially by the volume of advertising. Indeed, advertising is a weightier factor than relative prices. Their conclusions surely contribute to the nervousness long felt by economists over the use of consumer preferences to evaluate the welfare implications of resource allocation.