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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the significance of differentiated products
  • Describe how a monopolistic competitor chooses price and quantity
  • Discuss entry, exit, and efficiency as they pertain to monopolistic competition
  • Analyze how advertising can impact monopolistic competition

Monopolistic competition involves many firms competing against each other, but selling products that are distinctive in some way. Examples include stores that sell different styles of clothing; restaurants or grocery stores that sell different kinds of food; and even products like golf balls or beer that may be at least somewhat similar but differ in public perception because of advertising and brand names. There are over 600,000 restaurants in the United States. When products are distinctive, each firm has a mini-monopoly on its particular style or flavor or brand name. However, firms producing such products must also compete with other styles and flavors and brand names. The term “monopolistic competition” captures this mixture of mini-monopoly and tough competition, and the following Clear It Up feature introduces its derivation.

Who invented the theory of imperfect competition?

The theory of imperfect competition was developed by two economists independently but simultaneously in 1933. The first was Edward Chamberlin of Harvard University who published The Economics of Monopolistic Competition . The second was Joan Robinson of Cambridge University who published The Economics of Imperfect Competition . Robinson subsequently became interested in macroeconomics where she became a prominent Keynesian, and later a post-Keynesian economist. (See the Welcome to Economics! and The Keynesian Perspective chapters for more on Keynes.)

Differentiated products

A firm can try to make its products different from those of its competitors in several ways: physical aspects of the product, location from which the product is sold, intangible aspects of the product, and perceptions of the product. Products that are distinctive in one of these ways are called differentiated products .

Physical aspects of a product include all the phrases you hear in advertisements: unbreakable bottle, nonstick surface, freezer-to-microwave, non-shrink, extra spicy, newly redesigned for your comfort. The location of a firm can also create a difference between producers. For example, a gas station located at a heavily traveled intersection can probably sell more gas, because more cars drive by that corner. A supplier to an automobile manufacturer may find that it is an advantage to locate close to the car factory.

Intangible aspects can differentiate a product, too. Some intangible aspects may be promises like a guarantee of satisfaction or money back, a reputation for high quality, services like free delivery, or offering a loan to purchase the product. Finally, product differentiation may occur in the minds of buyers. For example, many people could not tell the difference in taste between common varieties of beer or cigarettes if they were blindfolded but, because of past habits and advertising, they have strong preferences for certain brands. Advertising can play a role in shaping these intangible preferences.

Questions & Answers

Are bonds the same as liabilities?
Anderson Reply
what is gasoline
Deepak Reply
how to know which products demand
Deepak
in other words economic can be define as what?
Ojarigho Reply
what is the difference between economics activities and economics system
Joshua Reply
what is the difference between price elasticity of demand and income elasticity of demand
Ellen Reply
what is demand
Alpha Reply
What is demand
Musa
is a measure of responsiveness at which a consumer is willing and able to offer a particular product at a given period of time
Manu
what is consumer
chill Reply
what is economics?
Odei Reply
economic development
favour Reply
what's economic activities
Mcjerry Reply
what is economic activity
Mcjerry
please can someone differentiate between an Economist view of cost and an Accountant view of cost
Mike
What's the relationship between scarcity and choice
Beverly Reply
when your income increase your demends increase
Ali Reply
what is the d/ce between cash flow and cash transection?
Ali
purchase power is demand or decrease in quantity of products in market as shortage is demand....
Baryali
urchase power is demand or decrease in quantity of products in market as shortage is demand...
Baryali
When purchasing power increases with the increase income, desire to get or purchase more quantity of goods increase which can be referred as demand. where as Shortage is a state or situation in which something needed cannot be obtained in sufficient amounts
Cool
what is demand
Gabriel Reply
Demand refers to the quantities of product or service that potential buyers are willing and able to buy.
Gcina
is the all your satistaction
Ali
yes
Fenteng
What are the causes of Monopoly
Alex Reply
more price, less quantite
Fermin
is the market which is clossed few people
Ali
Fermin and Ali Yusuf that is the causes of monopoly you people are naming or your are discussing about Demand.which one
Alex
what is national accounting
Ezichi Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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