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Key Area 2: Microecononics

Markets in Practice
Four Market Structures

Market Structure # of Control over Types of goods Barriers to

sellers price entry

Perfect competition



Four Market Structures

Market Structure # of Control over Types of goods Barriers to

sellers price entry

Perfect competition Many None Identical Low


Monopolistic Many Some Differentiated Low

competition firms

Oligopoly Few A lot Identical/different High

Monopoly One Total Unique High

Competition spectrum

Perfect competition Oligopoly

Monopolistic Monopoly
More competition Less
competitive competitive
Perfect Competition

Many buyers and sellers

(if there are too few buyers, the
buyers have too much power)

No influence on price (price takers)

The market completes this

Perfect Competition

Homogenous (identical) product

We’ve talked about substitutes, how close are these?

Perfect Competition

Perfect knowledge

• Prices

• Methods/technologies
Perfect Competition


Is demand elastic or inelastic in this model?

Demand curve (one producer)

If they raise their price from

the market, they won’t sell
D anything.

Price has been lowered by

competition to the lowest
point possible, they won’t
accept less than market
Perfect Competition

Law of one price

Traffic analogy
In heavy traffic, all lanes seem to go the same speed. You leave the slower
lane to join the faster lane, which causes it to go slower. Equilibrium is
eventually reached.

In competition, you leave the high-priced seller to go to the low-priced seller,

which drives their price up. Equilibrium is eventually reached.

The assumption of perfect knowledge ensures that this happens.

Barriers to Entry

Economies of scale

Brand loyalty



Set-up costs

Predatory pricing


Monopolistic Competition

Product differentiation
o Differences in the products
make them imperfect
o Toothbrushes
o Hairdressers
o Can just be branding
o Milk

Draw a demand curve for a

monopolistically competitive firm

Monopolistic Competition

Other non-price competition

o After sales service
o Location
o Advertising
1. Increase demand
2. Make demand more inelastic

Barriers to entry
o Higher than perfect competition, but still low
o Specialisations
o Licenses
o Advertising
o Set-up costs

Few firms dominate

o Make up 80%+ of market

o The decisions that an oligopolistic firm makes have huge impacts
on the others in the oligopoly.

Oligopoly - Interdependence

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Jack stays silent Jack betrays

Jill stays silent Each serves 2 years Jill: 10 years

Jack: 1 year

Jill betrays Jill: 1 year Each serves 2 years

Jack: 10 years
Oligopoly - Interdependence

In an oligopoly

$7 meal $5 meal

$7 meal McDonald’s Profit: $15m McDonald’s Profit: $30m

Hungry Jack’s Profit:$15m Hungry Jack’s Profit:$5m

$5 meal McDonald’s Profit: $5m McDonald’s Profit: $10m

Hungry Jack’s Profit:$30m Hungry Jack’s Profit:$10m

Oligopoly – Golden Balls

Non-price competition
• Price competition can be disastrous
• Branding and advertising
• Service (advice, after-sales)
• Warranty (not happy, money back)
• Differentiation (real or perceived)

High barriers to entry

Two types

• Homogenous product
• Very little price competition

• Differentiated products (biscuits, soft drinks, cars)
• We know these because they advertise to tell us that
their products are different.
Oligopoly - Elasticity

Kinked demand curve


The firm IS the industry

Price MAKER, not a price TAKER

Unique good, no close substitutes

High barriers to entry (some monopolies exist

due to law)

Non-price competition
- they still advertise to increase
Four market structures