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## Product differentiation

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**Product differentiation**• Two major forms of product differentiation - Quality - Variety • Differentiation by quality is Vertical differentiation - everyone agrees what is better or worse • Differentiation by variety is Horizontal differentiation - not everyone agrees what is better or worse**Four brands of breakfast cereal**. Which brand would be preferred by a consumer? Crunchiness A B C D Sweetness**Four brands of a refrigerator**. Which brand would be preferred by a consumer? Durability A B C D Size**Trade-offs in laptop computer**. Which brand would be preferred by a consumer? What if B were not available? In the end, it’s all a matter of taste!! Battery life A B C D Computing power**Differentiation, cost and entry**. High Unsuccessful entry Uncertain success Cost relative to competition Successful entry Low High Differentiation relative to competition**Competition in differentiated products**• Pretzel vendor in NY can locate where most consumers are • But competition is very intense there • Or he can move a block away to reduce competition • But he is distant from most consumers • What is the optimal location?**Hotelling’s model of horizontal differentiation**• Two businesses on a line segment • Prices at L and R are and • Consider consumer at a fraction x of distance from L to R • Let c be cost of moving from L to R L R Consumers of L Consumers of R**Hotelling’s model of horizontal differentiation**• Consumer’s total cost at L is +cx • Consumer’s total cost at R is +c(1-x) • Consumer buys from business where she has lower cost • This determines the marginal consumer that is indifferent between buying from L and R • This is given by • The optimal prices of both firms are = =c**Implications of the model of differentiation**• If L decreases price its sales increase is proportional to 1/c • Business stealing is easy when c is small • Thus c is the measure of differentiation between the products of L and R • Profits are proportional to differentiation c • The length of interval between L and R is a measure of consumer heterogeneity**Where should firms locate?**• Let prices be held constant • The marginal consumer is at midpoint between L and R • So L has incentive to move to right to increase its market • But then R has incentive to move to left • Thus, without consideration of prices, L and R wind up next to each other L R**Spatial preemption**• Suppose there is fixed cost F for creating a new location • How far apart must two products be to prevent admission of entrant E? • If unit transportation cost is t and distance between L and R is d, then c=td E’s market has length d/2 E L R d/2 d/2**Spatial preemption**• Transportation cost from L (or R) to E is dt/2 • Thus E’s optimal price is the transportation cost, dt/2 • Size of E’s market is d/2 • Therefore E’s profit, were it to enter is • Entry is profitable if**Implications of spatial preemption model**• One can preempt with substantially fewer products than would exist in competitive conditions • Preemptive distance d grows with fixed cost, but at a decreasing rate • Thus, increasing entrants fixed cost is not a cost-effective strategy to preempt entry • It is better to fill up the product space • Market can accommodate firms that are much closer than level at which preemption occurs**Sources of differentiation advantage**• Creating synergies • Networks