Market structures refer to intertwined features of the market that include number and comparative strength of buyers and sellers and depth of collusion among them. Other aspects that help to define a market structure are the extent of product differentiation, level and forms of competition, and easiness of entry into and exit from the subject market. Market structure thus describes the degree of competition felt by businesses in the industry. Market structures dictate products sold, easiness of entry into and exit from the industry, and volume of information available for the subject industry. Stakeholders, particularly the government and regulators, must thoroughly comprehend active market structure types in their locality in order to understand implications of any actions pursued. Failure to understand the market structure by the government may lead to eventual suffocation and death of an enterprise and this can be detrimental to the economy and wellbeing of the community.
Perfect competition occurs when several small firms compete against each other. Perfect competition market structure is marked by many sellers and buyers. Firms are obliged to accept a market price as several competitors exist. Monopoly is the second market structure to be explored. A monopoly refers to a firm that lacks competitors in its industry. In order to increase profits, a monopolistic firm lowers its output to raise prices. Oligopoly is a market structure composed of few large firms. Oligopolistic firms produce a similar product for sale and compete heavily for market dominance. Entry into an oligopolistic market is difficult because of a high start-up cost and control of strategic raw material. Oligopolistic firms can collude to create a monopolistic atmosphere in the market.
Lastly, monopolistic competition refers to a market structure that has many sellers. The monopolistic competition differs from perfect competition in that firms concerned sell branded products and there is easiness of entry into and exit from the industry.
Identify One Real-Life Example of a Market Structure in Your Local City and Relate Your Example to Each of the Characteristics of the Market
The telecommunication industry in the New York City is oligopolistic by nature. There are few companies that command the market for the cell phone telecommunication service. Telecommunication firms have a heavy influence on the price and other areas of the market. Firms in the mobile telephony industry in the New York City are less concentrated compared to a monopoly, but are increasingly concentrated when juxtaposed with those of a perfect competition market structure.
Firms in the New York City offer similar services, which include cell phone communication network, internet access to internet-enabled cell phones, and messaging services. These characteristics provide for heavy interdependence that spurs competition in non-price-oriented areas such as advertising.
This scenario exists because of high start-up costs such as putting up infrastructure and hiring expert personnel. Firms in the mobile telephony industry always try to outdo each other by creating offers and basing their competition on product differentiation. AT&T stands out by means of employing cutting edge technology such as 4G. Firms in the mobile telephony keep exact information of the market under control. Competition among the mobile telephony firms helps to drive prices lower. However, prices are relatively stable because price war will eventually hurt the financial health of the firm although this can be a benefit for consumers. Mobile telephony firms in the New York City have exclusive control over several patented technologies they implement.
Another aspect that characterizes mobile telephony firms in the New York City as oligopolistic is exclusive dealerships established by respective companies with suppliers with an intent to enjoy lower prices from suppliers. Lower prices from suppliers and partners help a firm to charge lower price that potential new entrants in the industry find prohibitive.
How High Entry Barriers into a Market Will Influence Long-Run Profitability of the Firms
There are two aspects to explore: the first case is when firms compete while the second case is when companies collude. The graph below clearly depicts oligopolistic firms like in the mobile telephony industry discussed above competing with one another. In the scenario of competition, as shown below, price cutting results in lowering a price to Pc and increasing total output to Qc. Perfect collusion among companies results in higher prices of Pm and a reduced market output of Qm.
High entry barriers that affect oligopolistic firms mean that firms will make profits between Pc-Pm in the long run. The second market structure with high entry barriers is the monopolistic market. Monopolistic firms derive monopoly power from government regulation, control of strategic resource, and marketing advantage. From the graph below, it is evident that one producer of the product exists in a monopolistic market and the market demand curve is the monopolist demand curve. The monopolistic firm will increase its output until marginal revenue equals marginal cost in a bid to maximize profits. The monopolistic firm can enjoy long-term profits as high entry barriers inhibit competitors entry. However, the monopolistic firm will incur losses when the demand curve exceeds likely output rates and the ATC is above the demand curve.
The Competitive Pressures that Are Present in Markets with High Barriers to Entry
Price discrimination is a dominant competitive pressure on firms operating in markets marked with high barriers of entry. Price discrimination is a scenario when a producer charges different prices for the same product. Producers or sellers must identify and separate a minimum of two groups with different elasticity of demand in order to profit from price segregation. In addition to the above requirement, sellers must make sure that buyers that purchase goods at a low price do not resell them to consumers that