MARKET STRUCTURE – AN OVERVIEW

Market structure is best defined as the organisational and other characteristics of a market. We focus on those characteristics which affect the nature of competition and pricing – but it is important not to place too much emphasis simply on the market share of the existing firms in an industry. Traditionally, the most important features of market structure are: The number of firms (including the scale and extent of foreign competition) The market share of the largest firms (measured by the concentration ratio – see below) The nature of costs (including the potential for firms to exploit economies of scale and also the presence of sunk costs which affects market contestability in the long term) The degree to which the industry is vertically integrated - vertical integration explains the process by which different stages in production and distribution of a product are under the ownership and control of a single enterprise. A good example of vertical integration is the oil industry, where the major oil companies own the rights to extract from oilfields, they run a fleet of tankers, operate refineries and have control of sales at their own filling stations. The extent of product differentiation (which affects cross-price elasticity of demand) The structure of buyers in the industry (including the possibility of monopsony power) The turnover of customers (sometimes known as “market churn”) – i.e. how many customers are prepared to switch their supplier over a given time period when market conditions change. The rate of customer churn is affected by the degree of consumer or brand loyalty and the influence of persuasive advertising and marketing Summary of market structures Characteristic Perfect Competition Oligopoly Monopoly Number of firms Many Few One Type of product Homogenous Differentiated Limited Barriers to entry None High High Pricing Price taker Price maker Price maker Economic efficiency High Low Low Innovative behaviour Weak Very Strong Potentially strong

Economics Basics: Monopolies, Oligopolies and Perfect Competition
Economists assume that there are a number of different buyers and sellers in the marketplace. This means that we have competition in the market, which allows price to change in response to changes in supply and demand. Furthermore, for almost every product there are substitutes, so if one product becomes too expensive, a buyer can choose a cheaper substitute instead. In a market with many buyers and sellers, both the consumer and the supplier have equal ability to influence price. In some industries, there are no substitutes and there is no competition. In a market that has only one or few suppliers of a good or service, the producer(s) can control price, meaning that a consumer

Thus. should a single firm decide to increase its selling price of a good. it will get a greater market share.does not have choice. A monopoly may also form when a company has a copyright or patent that prevents others from entering the market. such as electricity. an oligopoly has high barriers to entry. and prices are determined by supply and demand. if Company X starts selling the widgets at a lower price. barriers to entry for new companies. Perfect competition means there are few. thereby. In an oligopoly. For instance. produces the other 50. Pfizer. are interdependent as a result of market forces. Company Y. Perfect competition is characterized by many buyers and sellers. as a result. Another reason for the barriers against entry into a monopolistic industry is that oftentimes. the single business is the industry. similar. that an economy needs only 100 widgets. forcing Company Y to lower its prices as well. This select group of firms has control over the price and. Entry into such a market is restricted due to high costs or other impediments. social or political. there are only a few firms that make up an industry. The products that the oligopolistic firms produce are often nearly identical and. therefore. the companies. In other words. the consumers can just turn to the nearest competitor for a better price. cannot maximize his or her total utility and has have very little influence over the price of goods. for instance. Company X produces 50 widgets and its competitor. perfect competition. There are two extreme forms of market structure: monopoly and. if any. The prices of the two brands will be interdependent and. For example. For example. in Saudi Arabia the government has sole control over the oil industry. for example. So. therefore. producers in a perfectly competitive market are subject to the prices determined by the market and do not have any leverage . like a monopoly. A monopoly is a market structure in which there is only one producer/seller for a product. Assume. causing any firm that increases its prices to lose market share and profits. one entity has the exclusive rights to a natural resource. in a perfectly competitive market. which are competing for market share. a government can create a monopoly over an industry that it wants to control. many products that are similar in nature and. its opposite. many substitutes. had a patent on Viagra. which may be economic.