Quantitative Marketing and Economics

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 57-81

First online:

Modeling preference evolution in discrete choice models: A Bayesian state-space approach

  • Mohamed LachaabAffiliated withInstitut Superieur de Gestion, University of TunisClarkson University
  • , Asim AnsariAffiliated withGraduate School of Business, Columbia University
  • , Kamel JedidiAffiliated withGraduate School of Business, Columbia University
  • , Abdelwahed TrabelsiAffiliated withInstitut Superieur de Gestion, University of Tunis

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We develop discrete choice models that account for parameter driven preference dynamics. Choice model parameters may change over time because of shifting market conditions or due to changes in attribute levels over time or because of consumer learning. In this paper we show how such preference evolution can be modeled using hierarchial Bayesian state space models of discrete choice. The main feature of our approach is that it allows for the simultaneous incorporation of multiple sources of preference and choice dynamics. We show how the state space approach can include state dependence, unobserved heterogeneity, and more importantly, temporal variability in preferences using a correlated sequence of population distributions. The proposed model is very general and nests commonly used choice models in the literature as special cases.

We use Markov chain monte carlo methods for estimating model parameters and apply our methodology to a scanner data set containing household brand choices over an eight-year period. Our analysis indicates that preferences exhibit significant variation over the time-span of the data and that incorporating time-variation in parameters is crucial for appropriate inferences regarding the magnitude and evolution of choice elasticities. We also find that models that ignore time variation in parameters can yield misleading inferences about the impact of causal variables.


Preference evolution Hierarchical Bayesian state-space models Heterogeneity Multinomial probit Choice models Pricing Promotions