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Product Specifications

The product specifications are derived using SPDs. They can be brand and model specific – that is, a specification in which a particular brand and model is stipulated. Or they can be generic – that is, a specification where only the relevant technical parameters and other price determining characteristics are given but no brand is designated. Brand and model specifications have tight definitions and countries pricing them are, in principle, pricing products of identical quality. Generic specifications have looser definitions and the countries pricing them are, in principle, pricing products of comparable quality. In practice, models with the same identifiers in different countries are not necessarily identical or even comparable, while generic specifications, especially those that are too loose or too open-ended, are susceptible to variations in quality.

 

Overall, brand and model specifications are preferable to generic specifications because countries price constant quality, but their use is limited by the availability in countries of the brand and model specified. Also, if available, the brand and model may only be found in up-market outlets at a price that is considerably higher than the average price for the product cluster which could bias the comparison. Although the ICP does use brand and model specifications, it relies heavily on generic specifications and inevitably some variability in quality between the products priced by countries occurs. Quality differences can arise as a result of countries pricing items that do not match exactly the product specifications. They can also arise because, although the items priced appear to match the product specifications exactly, the product specifications are not precise enough to ensure that countries price items of comparable quality.

 

Quality differences are usually identified when the price data are edited. In general, the ICP does not adjust prices for differences in quality. Mismatches in quality are dealt with either by re-matching the prices reported - an ex post refining of the specifications - or by discarding them.