Moorthy, K. Sridhar
March 1988
Marketing Science;Spring88, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p141
Academic Journal
This paper examines the role of consumer preferences, costs, and price competition in determining the competitive product strategy of a firm. In the model studied here, there are two identical firms competing on product quality and price. They face consumers who prefer a higher quality product to a lower quality product, but differ in how much they are willing to pay for quality. The consumers can also choose a substitute if they don't like the product-price offerings of the two firms. For the firms, a higher quality product costs more to produce than a lower quality product. The paper shows that the equilibrium strategy for each firm should be to differentiate its product from its competitor, with the firm choosing the higher quality choosing the higher margin as well. This differentiation, however, is not efficient--that is, it is possible to choose two other products and offer them at prices that cover their marginal cost, and still satisfy consumers' "needs" better in the aggregate. A monopolist, by contrast, would differentiate his product line efficiently. This suggests that cannibalization has different effects on product strategy than competition. The paper also shows that if one firm enters the market first, then it can defend itself from later entrants, and gain a first-mover advantage, by preempting the most desirable product position.


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