Price Competition and Product Differentiation when Goods have Network Effects
The objective of our approach is to develop a model which captures horizontal product differentiation under environmental awareness, product innovation under network effects, and price competition whereby environmentally friendly products are costlier to produce. As an example, we refer to automobile producers, offering cars with a gasoline powered engine and one with a natural gas powered engine. The network of petrol stations provide the complementary good. The fulfilled expectation equilibrium could be one with either the firm offering the conventional engine as the only producer, or one with the firm offering the new technology as the only producer, or one where both firms share the market. Which equilibrium will emerge depends on the cost of producing energy efficient engines and on environmental awareness of the consumers. Due to the latter aspect the innovative firm has a chance to enter the market. We use a two stage game in prices and characteristics to analyse the respective market structure. We show that if environmental awareness is strong, the firm with the conventional technology will improve energy efficiency of its product. If the network effect is weak, both firms will be in the market. Prices and profits will decline if the role of the network effect becomes important.
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