Product Quality and Market Size

Steven Berry, Joel Waldfogel

NBER Working Paper No. 9675
Issued in May 2003
NBER Program(s):   IO   PR

Recent literature notes that when quality is produced with fixed costs, a high quality firm can undercut its rival's prices and may find it profitable to invest more in quality as market size grows large. As a result, a market can remain concentrated even as it grows large. When quality is produced with variable costs, by contrast, a wide range of product qualities can coexist in the market because they are offered at different prices. Larger markets will fragment and offer products with a wider range of qualities. Using US urban areas as markets, we examine the relationships between market size and product quality - and between market size and product concentration - for two industries that differ in their quality production process. We document that in the restaurants industry, where quality is produced largely with variable costs, the range of qualities on offer increases in market size, with each product maintaining a small market share. In daily newspapers, where quality is produced with fixed costs, the average quality of products increases with market size, and the market does not fragment as it grows large.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9675

Published: Steven Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2010. "PRODUCT QUALITY AND MARKET SIZE -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 58(1), pages 1-31, 03.

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