This paper presents a framework for estimating and updating user preferences in the context of app-based recommender systems. We specifically consider recommender systems which provide personalized menus of options to users. A Hierarchical Bayes procedure is applied in order to account for inter- and intra-consumer heterogeneity, representing random taste variations among individuals and among choice situations (menus) for a given individual, respectively. Three levels of preference parameters are estimated: population-level, individual-level and menu-specific. In the context of a recommender system, the estimation of these parameters is repeated periodically in an offline process in order to account for trends, such as changing market conditions. Furthermore, the individual-level parameters are updated in real-time as users make choices in order to incorporate the latest information from the users. This online update is computationally efficient which makes it feasible to embed it in a real-time recommender system. The estimated individual-level preferences are stored for each user and retrieved as inputs to a menu optimization model in order to provide recommendations. The proposed methodology is applied to both Monte-Carlo and real data. It is observed that the online update of the parameters is successful in improving the parameter estimates in real-time. This framework is relevant to various recommender systems that generate personalized recommendations ranging from transportation to e-commerce and online marketing, but is particularly useful when the attributes of the alternatives vary over time.
- Hierarchical Bayes
- Intra-consumer heterogeneity
- Preference updates, recommender systems