Do We Exploit all Information for Counterfactual Analysis? Benefits of Factor Models and Idiosyncratic Correction

Jianqing Fan, Ricardo Masini, Marcelo C. Medeiros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Optimal pricing, that is determining the price level that maximizes profit or revenue of a given product, is a vital task for the retail industry. To select such a quantity, one needs first to estimate the price elasticity from the product demand. Regression methods usually fail to recover such elasticities due to confounding effects and price endogeneity. Therefore, randomized experiments are typically required. However, elasticities can be highly heterogeneous depending on the location of stores, for example. As the randomization frequently occurs at the municipal level, standard difference-in-differences methods may also fail. Possible solutions are based on methodologies to measure the effects of treatments on a single (or just a few) treated unit(s) based on counterfactuals constructed from artificial controls. For example, for each city in the treatment group, a counterfactual may be constructed from the untreated locations. In this article, we apply a novel high-dimensional statistical method to measure the effects of price changes on daily sales from a major retailer in Brazil. The proposed methodology combines principal components (factors) and sparse regressions, resulting in a method called Factor-Adjusted Regularized Method for Treatment evaluation (FarmTreat). The data consist of daily sales and prices of five different products over more than 400 municipalities. The products considered belong to the sweet and candies category and experiments have been conducted over the years of 2016 and 2017. Our results confirm the hypothesis of a high degree of heterogeneity yielding very different pricing strategies over distinct municipalities. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-590
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number538
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


  • Counterfactual
  • Demand estimation
  • Factor models
  • High-dimensional testing
  • Optimal pricing


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