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Two at the Top: Quality Differentiation in Markets with Switching Costs

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Listed:
  • Thomas Gehrig

    (Universität Freiburg)

  • Rune Stenbacka

    (Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki)

Abstract

We explore the effects of switching costs on the subgame perfect quality decisions of oligopolists with repeated price competition. We establish a strong strategic quality premium. We show that competition for the establishment of customer relationships will eliminate low-quality firms in period 1 and that low-quality firms can survive only based on poaching profits. The equilibrium configuration is characterized by an agglomeration of two providers of top-quality as soon as switching cost heterogeneity is sufficiently significant. We demonstrate a finiteness property, according to which the two top-quality firms dominate the market with a joint market share exceeding 50 %.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Gehrig & Rune Stenbacka, 2005. "Two at the Top: Quality Differentiation in Markets with Switching Costs," CIE Discussion Papers 2005-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieci:2005-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
    2. Paul Klemperer, 1995. "Competition when Consumers have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 515-539.
    3. Dos Santos Ferreira, Rodolphe & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1996. "Horizontal and vertical differentiation: The Launhardt model," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 485-506, June.
    4. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 2000. "Customer Poaching and Brand Switching," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 634-657, Winter.
    5. Gehrig, Thomas, 1996. "Natural oligopoly and customer networks in intermediated markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 101-118.
    6. Irmen, Andreas & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1998. "Competition in Multi-characteristics Spaces: Hotelling Was Almost Right," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 76-102, January.
    7. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
    8. Gehrig, Thomas, 1998. "Competing markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 277-310, February.
    9. repec:ulb:ulbeco:2013/1759 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. de Palma, A, et al, 1985. "The Principle of Minimum Differentiation Holds under Sufficient Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 767-781, July.
    11. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: Mark Armstrong & Robert Porter (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1967-2072, Elsevier.
    12. ANDERSON, Simon P. & de PALMA, André & THISSE, Jacques-François, 1992. "Interpretations of the logit discrete choice models and the theory of product differentiation," LIDAM Reprints CORE 1017, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    13. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
    14. Thomas Gehrig & Rune Stenbacka, 2004. "Differentiation‐Induced Switching Costs and Poaching," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 635-655, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crespi John M. & Marette Stephan, 2009. "Quality, Sunk Costs and Competition," Review of Marketing Science, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-36, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    quality choice; switching costs; poaching; natural oligopoly;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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