, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 195-232

Modeling and Forecasting the Sales of Technology Products

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Abstract

Managers in technology product markets require sales response models that provide substantive insights into the effects of marketing activities as well as reliable sales forecasts. Such markets are characterized by frequent introductions and withdrawals of multiple models by different companies. Thus, the data available on the performance of any individual model is scarce. A second characteristic is that the effects of product attributes and marketing activities could change over time as different types of consumers participate in the market at different points in time. Given sparse data, it becomes critical to specify a model that allows pooling of information across brand-models while at the same time providing brand-model specific parameters. We accomplish this via a hierarchical Bayesian model specification. Further, to capture the effects of changing consumer preferences over time, we specify a time varying parameter model. Our modeling framework therefore, integrates a hierarchical Bayesian model within a time varying parameter framework to develop a dynamic hierarchical Bayesian model. We employ data on digital cameras in the U.S. market to estimate the parameters of our proposed model. We use thirty-three months of national level data on the digital camera market with the data series beginning very close to the inception of this product category. We find that while there is little variation in reliance of benefits by early adopters, the second wave of adopters focus on Ease of Use followed by later adopters who rely on Storage and Image Quality. Looking at the elasticities of demand with respect to the various benefits, we find that at around the halfway point of our data series, the industry as a whole would have been better off investing in increasing image quality rather than storage if costs associated with the two are equal. However, at the end of the time horizon both benefits appear to have about equal impact. Further, the relative benefits of improving these attributes vary across brands and points in time. We then generate single period and multiple period ahead sales forecasts. We make different assumptions about information availability and find that the average (across brand-models and time) MAPE ranges from 7.5 to 14.5% for the model. We provide extensive comparisons of our model with 4 potential alternatives and find that our model outperforms these alternatives on the nature of substantive insights obtained as well as in forecasting out-of-sample especially when there is a very short time window of data.