MONOPOLISTIC MARKET: Overview, Characteristics & Examples

monopolistic market
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Monopolistic competition is a market structure in which many firms compete for market share, and each firm’s product is similar to, but not interchangeable with, the other firms’ products. In this guide, you can learn about the features, structures, and examples of monopolistic market competition.

What Is a Monopolistic Market?

Monopolistic markets are those in which only one company provides a specific product or service. Monopolistic market structures are characterized by the features of a pure monopoly, in which a single company fully controls the market and determines the supply and price of a product or service. As a result, a monopolistic market is a non-competitive market.

Monopolistic Market Competition

Monopolistic competition is a market structure in which many companies exist in an industry and produce similar but distinct products. None of the companies has a monopoly, and each company operates independently of the actions of the others. Monopolistic market structures represent a type of imperfect competition.

Monopolistic market competition has the following characteristics:

  • The presence of numerous businesses
  • Each company creates products that are similar but distinct.
  • Businesses are not price takers.
  • Industry-free entry and exit
  • Companies compete based on product quality, price, and marketing strategy.

Companies in monopolistic market competition make economic profits in the short run but make no monetary profit in the long run. The latter is also a result of the industry’s freedom of entry and exit. Short-term economic gains attract new entrants, resulting in increased competition, lower prices, and high output.

Furthermore, firms in monopolistic market structures are inefficient productively and allocatively because they operate with excess capacity. Because there are so many companies, each has a small market share and cannot influence product pricing. As a result, corporate collaboration is impossible.

Monopolistic Market Examples

A monopolistic market is a type of competition that characterizes several industries that consumers are familiar with daily. Restaurants, hair salons, clothing, and consumer electronics are examples of monopolistic markets. We’ll use household cleaning products to demonstrate monopolistic market competition’s features.

#1. Competing companies

Assume you’ve recently moved into a new home and need to stock up on cleaning supplies. Suppose you go to the appropriate aisle in a grocery store. In that case, you’ll notice that any given item—dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent, surface disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, and so on—comes in a variety of flavors. Five or six companies may compete for your business for each purchase you need to make.

#2. Product difference

Because the products all serve the same purpose, sellers have few options for differentiating their offerings from those of competitors. There may be lower-quality “discount” varieties, but it is difficult to tell whether the higher-priced options are any better. This uncertainty stems from incomplete information: the average consumer does not understand the clear differences between the various products, nor do they know the fair price for any of them.

Because different firms must distinguish broadly similar products in a monopolistic market, heavy marketing is joint. One company may decide to lower the price of their cleaning products, sacrificing a higher profit margin in exchange for increased sales (ideally). Another option is to raise the price and use packaging that suggests quality and sophistication.

Features of a Monopolistic Market

The following are some of the most important features of monopolistic market competition:

#1. A large number of sellers:

Many companies sell similar but not identical products. Each firm operates independently and has a limited market share. As a result, an individual firm has only minor control over the market price. A large number of businesses create market competition.

#2. Product differentiation:

Despite many sellers, each firm can exercise some monopoly through product differentiation. Product differentiation refers to differentiating products based on brand, size, color, shape, etc. A firm’s product is a close but not perfect substitute for other firms’ products.

#3. Selling costs:

Products are differentiated in monopolistic market competition, and these differences are communicated to buyers through selling costs. Selling costs are the expenses incurred for product marketing, sales promotion, and advertising. Such fees are incurred to persuade buyers to purchase a specific product brand over a competitor’s brand. As a result, selling costs account for a sizable portion of the total cost under monopolistic competition.

#4. Freedom of entry and exit:

Firms can enter or exit the industry at any time under monopolistic competition. It ensures that a firm does not experience abnormal profits or losses in the long run. It should be noted. However, that entry under monopolistic competition is not as easy and accessible as it is under perfect match.

#5. Lack of perfect knowledge:

Buyers and sellers do not have a complete understanding of market conditions. Selling costs create an artificial superiority in the minds of consumers, making it difficult for them to evaluate different products on the market. As a result, even if other lower-cost products are of equal quality, consumers prefer a specific product (despite its high price).

#6. Pricing decision:

Under monopolistic competition, a firm is neither a price taker not a price maker. However, each firm has some price control by producing a unique product or establishing a specific reputation. The extent to which he has price control depends on how strongly buyers are attached to his brand.

Non-Price Competition:

Non-price competition exists alongside price competition in a monopolistic market. Furthermore, non-price competition is when a company competes with another company by giving away gifts, offering favorable credit terms, and so on, without changing the prices of its products.

Additional Considerations

Firms operating in a monopolistic market face a very different business environment than those working in a monopoly or perfect competition. Companies in monopolistic competition can distinguish themselves through other means in addition to competing to reduce costs or scale up production.

Decision-making

Monopolistic competition implies that there are enough firms in the industry that one firm’s decision does not necessitate changes in the behavior of other firms. A price cut by one firm can start a price war in an oligopoly but not in monopolistic competition.

Pricing influence

Firms in monopolistic competition, like monopolies, are price setters or makers rather than price takers. However, their nominal price-setting ability is effectively offset by the high demand for their products is highly price-elastic. To raise their prices, businesses must be able to differentiate their products from their competitors by increasing their perceived or actual quality.

Demand elasticity

Demand in monopolistic competition is highly elastic due to the variety of similar offerings. In other words, the order is susceptible to price changes. If your favorite multipurpose surface cleaner suddenly costs 20% more, you’ll probably switch to an alternative, and your countertops won’t notice the difference.

Economic gain

Firms can make excessive economic profits in the short run. However, because entry barriers are low, other firms are enticed to enter the market, increasing competition until overall economic profit is zero. It is important to note that financial profits are not the same as accounting profits; a company with a positive net income can have a negative economic profit because the latter includes opportunity costs.

Monopolistic Market Advertising

Monopolistic market economists frequently emphasize the social cost of these market structures. Firms in monopolistic markets spend much money on advertising and other marketing structures.

When there is a genuine difference between the products of different companies that the consumer is unaware of, these expenditures can be beneficial. However, suppose the products are near-perfect substitutes, as is likely in monopolistic competition. In that case, natural resources spent on advertising and marketing are a form of wasteful rent-seeking behavior that results in a deadweight loss to society.

Advantages of Monopolistic Competition

Consider the benefits of monopolistic competition.

#1. Consistent product or service quality:

Monopolistic industries necessitate firms developing slightly different products to compete for market share. Individual firms must maintain a certain level of quality in comparison to their competitors to succeed.

#2. Consumers have a variety of options:

Although consumers in monopolistic markets have imperfect information influencing their purchasing decisions, they have several options to research before making a purchase.

#3. Decision-making authority:

Firms have decision-making power over when to enter and exit the market, how to set their prices, and how to market their products in monopolistic competition. With so many firms in the market, an individual firm can make decisions without triggering a chain reaction.

The Drawbacks of Monopolistic Competition

Monopolistic competition has drawbacks as well.

#1. Lack of efficiency:

Firms in monopolistic competition frequently operate with excess capacity, which means they produce less than they can produce. Firms in a monopolistic market are thus at risk of being productively inefficient and causing allocative inefficiencies or a mismatch between output and buyer need.

#2. Normal long-term profit:

Firms in monopolistic competition experience positive economic profit in the short run. However, in the long run, a firm’s total cost equals its total revenue, resulting in zero economic profit or expected profit.

#3. Waste:

Firms in monopolistic markets are encouraged to differentiate their products. This can result in the waste of unnecessary packaging or marketing materials.

Conclusion

Simply put, monopolistic market competition is frequently regarded as inefficient because companies spend excess funds on advertising and publicity rather than improving the quality of their products. These monopolistic market structures, however, are realistic because many companies offer differentiated goods, and there are still, albeit low, barriers to entry. As a result, numerous examples of such businesses are all around you.

Monopolistic Market FAQs

What is monopolistic market example?

Many well-known industries, such as restaurants, hair salons, clothing, and consumer electronics, have monopolistic competition. Burger King and McDonald’s are two good examples. Both are fast food restaurants that serve a similar market and provide comparable products and services.

What is the difference between monopolistic competition and oligopoly?

Many sellers offer differentiated products under monopolistic competition—products that differ slightly but serve similar functions. Sellers exert some price control by making consumers aware of product differences. In an oligopoly, a few sellers supply a significant portion of the market’s products.

Why monopolistic competition is important?

Monopolistic competition can provide the following benefits: Because there are no significant entry barriers, markets are relatively competitive. Differentiation fosters variety, choice, and utility. A typical high street in any town, for example, will have a variety of restaurants from which to choose.

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