VoxEU Column

Identifying state dependence in brand choice: Evidence from hurricanes

Consumers tend to be loyal to products they have purchased in the past, which companies may exploit to raise prices. To better understand whether this brand loyalty is driven by preferences or state dependence, this column looks at how households react when stockouts due to hurricanes force them to purchase different brands of bottled water. The authors do not find evidence of state dependence in bottled water brand. Although there is a large and significant decrease in loyalty during the stockout weeks, there is no effect in the post-hurricane period.