Assortment optimization under a multinomial logit model with position bias and social influence

Published in 4or, 2016

Abstract: ‘Motivated by applications in retail, online advertising, and cultural markets, this paper studies the problem of finding an optimal assortment and positioning of products subject to a capacity constraint in a setting where consumers preferences can be modeled as a discrete choice under a multinomial logit model that captures the intrinsic product appeal, position biases, and social influence. For the static problem, we prove that the optimal assortment and positioning can be found in polynomial time. This is despite the fact that adding a product to the assortment may increase the probability of selecting the no-choice option, a phenomenon not observed in almost all models studied in the literature. We then consider the dynamics of such a market, where consumers are influenced by the aggregate past purchases. In this dynamic setting, we provide a small example to show that the natural and often used policy known as popularity ranking, that ranks products in decreasing order of the number of purchases, can reduce the expected profit as times goes by. We then prove that a greedy policy that applies the static optimal assortment and positioning at each period, always benefits from the popularity signal and outperforms any policy where consumers cannot observe the number of past purchases (in expectation).’

Use Google Scholar for full citation