Merriam-Webster defines competition within concern as ‘the attempt of two or more parties moving independently to procure the concern of a 3rd party by offering the most favourable footings ‘ . Competition is an built-in portion of the market economic system and has been discussed as a critical component of the capitalist system by a broad scope of economic experts such as Marx, Keynes, Schumpeter, Friedman, Smith, Hayek, Ricardo & A ; Weber. It was proposed, by both Adam Smith and subsequently Vilfredo Pareto that competition leads to there being an optimum province of resource allotment.

By and large houses look to vie in two ways ; monetary value competition and non-price competition. Price competition moves the consumer up and down the consumer demand curve with monetary value fluctuations whilst non-price competition seeks to switch the demand curve to the right, doing it more inelastic.

One of the first economic theoretical accounts to be proposed for oligopolistic markets was the kinked demand curve ( Sweezy 1939 ) . The kinked demand curve has been used to explicate why houses keep the monetary values stable in an oligopoly. A cardinal premise within this theoretical account is that there is no collusion between houses within the market. The cardinal beliefs of the theoretical account are that houses will non alter monetary values if a rival increases their monetary value and viing houses will take down their monetary values in response to a rival diminishing their monetary values ( Begg, Fischer, Dornbusch, 2005 ) . Therefore any increased monetary values face demand that is elastic and any reduced monetary values face demand that is inelastic. Consequently the lone manner in which market portion can be maintained is through maintaining monetary values stable. This theoretical account suggests that monetary value wars should non happen in an oligopoly as it consequences in cut downing net incomes for the houses take parting in the monetary value war.

Criticisms of this theoretical account are that there is no account of how the stable monetary value is determined. Another job with the kinked demand curve theoretical account is that the houses ‘ beliefs about the demand curve are non ever accurate and houses can find that they are non ever correct. If fringy cost additions by adequate to do the house to increase its monetary value and if all the houses experience the same addition in fringy cost, they all increase their monetary values together. Consequently the belief that if one house increases its monetary value, its rivals wo n’t follow is wrong. If a house bases its actions on beliefs that are wrong so net income maximization will non happen and could take to an economic loss ( Parkin, Powell, Matthews, 2005 ) .

As antecedently stated a cardinal premise of this theoretical account is that is assumes that there is no collusion within the industry. However, an Office of Fair Trading probe ( OFT 2007 ) into the UK supermarket found conniving patterns in relation to assorted dairy merchandises. Expand upon

Cournot Model

Augustin Cournot put frontward a simple theoretical account of duopolies that remains a popular theoretical account for oligopolistic competition ( Begg, Fischer, Dornbusch, 2005 ) . This theoretical account of non-cooperative oligopolistic market pricing sees houses seeking to gain by puting end product, and taking competing houses degrees of end product as fixed ( Sloman & A ; Wride, 2009 ) . The predicted result from this theoretical account is a monetary value that is between the competitory monetary value and that of a monopolistic monetary value, with the equilibrium monetary value nearing the competitory degree the figure of houses goes to eternity. This theoretical account accordingly shows that there is a direct, but non-linear relationship between monetary value and the degree of concentration in a market ( Puu, 2007 ) .

The Bertrand Model

An alternate premise to the Cournot theoretical account is that rival houses set a peculiar monetary value and stick to it. This state of affairs is more realistic when houses are non willing to disquieted consumers with regular monetary value alterations or when they want to bring forth catalogues which specify monetary values. The purpose of a house viing in an oligopoly in this scenario is to choose its ain monetary value and measure in the visible radiation of the monetary values set by challengers ( Begg, Fischer, Dornbusch, 2005 ) . Joseph Bertrand developed a theoretical account that looked at the monetary value puting behaviors of houses in duopolies and oligopolies in 1883, known as the Bertrand theoretical account. The result of houses puting their monetary values with the benefit of analyzing their rivals ‘ monetary values is clear. The house will try to put a lower monetary value until all supranormal net incomes are competed off, through monetary value wars, this will go on until monetary value is forced down to the degree of mean cost with normal net incomes staying ( Sloman & A ; Wride, 2009 ) .

Nash Equilibrium

The equilibrium result in either the cournot or Bertrand theoretical accounts is non in the joint involvements of the houses. In each instance, entire net incomes are less than under a monopoly or trust. But, in the absence of collusion, the result is the consequence of each house making the best it can, given its premises about what its challengers are making. The ensuing equilibrium is known as a Nash equilibrium, after John Nash ‘s construct introduced in 1951 ( Sloman & A ; Wride, 2009 ) .

The Nash Equilibrium is a construct of game theory has been defined as ‘a constellation of schemes, one for each participant, such that each participant ‘s scheme is best for her, given that all other participants are playing their equilibrium schemes. ‘ ( Dixit and Skeath 1999, p.82, cited in Davis & A ; Lam, 2002:268 ) .

Comparison of Bertrand and Cournot – Rewrite AS IT IS A DIRECT QUOTE

Under Bertrand behavior, Nash equilibrium entails monetary value equal to fringy cost, so industry end product is high. Under Cournot behavior, Nash equilibrium entails lower industry end product and a higher monetary value. Because fringy and mean costs are changeless, each house makes net incomes since the monetary value is higher. But the houses do non co-operate. A joint monopolizer would do more net income by organizing end product determinations. Industry end product would be even lower and the monetary value even higher.

Therefore, Nash equilibrium depends on the peculiar premise each house makes about its challenger ‘s behavior. Generally, economic experts prefer the Cournot theoretical account. In pattern, few oligopolies behave like a absolutely competitory industry, as the Bertrand theoretical account predicts.

Furthermore, since monetary values can be changed quickly, handling a challenger ‘s monetary value as fixed does non look plausible. In contrast, we can construe the Cournot theoretical account stating that houses foremost choose end product capacity and so put monetary value. Since capacity takes clip to change, this makes more sense ( Begg, Fischer, Dornbusch, 2005 ) .

The Von Stackelberg competition is a form oligopolistic competition in which houses set end product, with one moving as a leader and the other playing as the follower.


One of the cardinal characteristics of an oligopoly is the mutuality of the houses viing within the market. As there are merely a few houses taking portion within the oligopoly each house has to take history of its rivals. Each house will be affected by its challengers ‘ determinations and a house ‘s determinations will impact its challengers. Therefore they are reciprocally dependent or ‘interdependent ‘ ( Sloman & A ; Wirde, 2009 ) .

Within an oligopoly participating houses can be pulled into two opposite waies. This mutuality could carry houses to try to conspire with each other and act jointly as a monopoly, to maximize net incomes. Or houses could be tempted to vie with their challengers to derive a bigger portion of the industry net incomes themselves ( Sloman & A ; Wirde, 2009 ) . When oligopolists can conspire to maximize their corporate net incomes, taking into account their common mutuality, they will bring forth a monopoly end product and monetary value and therefore earn a monopoly net income ( Samuelson & A ; Nordhaus, 2005 ) .

Two types of collusion that can take topographic point within an oligopoly are expressed and silent conniving practises. Explicit collusion is carried out under a formal understanding, known as a trust. However, trusts are now outlawed in Europe, the US and many other states ( Begg, Fischer, Dornbusch, 2005 ) . Under the 2002 Enterprise Act, in the UK it is a condemnable offense to prosecute in trust understandings irrespective of whether there are appreciable effects on competition. Along with the Enterprise Act, the Competition Act was introduced, this provided the UK with two organic structures known as the Office of Fair Trading ( OFT ) and the Competition Commission ( CC ) . The OFT can look into any houses suspected of prosecuting in one or more of the forbidden practises. The OFT can mention instances to the CC for farther probe. The CC is responsible for finding whether the construction of an industry or the patterns of houses within it are damaging to competition ( Sloman & A ; Wirde, 2009 ) .

Tacit collusion is when oligopolists take attention non to prosecute in monetary value film editing, inordinate advertisement or other signifiers of competition. One signifier of silent collusion is when houses follow the monetary value set by an established leader. When the established leader is the market leader it is known as ‘dominant steadfast monetary value leading ‘ . This is when the viing houses choose the same monetary value as that set by the dominant house in the industry. Alternatively, the monetary value leader can besides be the house in the market that has proved to be the most dependable one to follow, this is known as ‘barometric house monetary value leading ‘ . The monetary value leader in this instance is the 1 whose monetary values are believed to reflect market conditions in the most satisfactory manner ( Sloman & A ; Wirde, 2009 ) .

Non-Price Competitive Theory

Non-price competition occurs in market state of affairss in which rivals wish to avoid monetary value wars, so alternatively of take downing monetary value they focus on extended publicities to foreground the typical benefits or characteristics of their product/service.

Location Models

Within non-price competition location can be seen as a competitory variable, within oligopolistic competition there are two prima theoretical accounts, Hotelling ‘s Location Model and Salop ‘s Circle Model.


A location theoretical account was developed by Hotelling ( 1929 ) to explicate competition between houses without concentrating on monetary value. The theoretical account assumes that the houses are homogeneous except for their location and accordingly look to vie on this variable. The theoretical account observes a scenario in which there are two houses ( X and Y ) located at different terminals of a route, where consumers are equally distributed. There is no penchant for either house, as they are homogeneous in nature, nevertheless conveyance costs need to be minimised.

Ten Yttrium

If steadfast X wants to increase its market portion it will travel to the left of Y. This will let X to have the bulk of the clients with the exclusion of the minority that are to the right of Y

Ten Yttrium

To antagonize steadfast X ‘s displacement of location house Y would travel to the left in order to derive the larger client base. This alteration of location would go on until both houses reach an equilibrium point in which they are both in the Centre of the street and keep equal market portion.

Ten Yttrium

This theoretical account shows that if monetary value is equal the location of the houses can be determined. When houses are settled in their equilibrium locations they will be improbable to switch, as this can do a loss of market portion and a loss of competitory advantage. The Bertrand equilibrium relates to this theoretical account, as in a similar scenario where houses are homogeneous and set in an equilibrium location but one of the houses operates at a lower monetary value, they will keep the entire market portion.

Salop ‘s Circle Model

Salop ‘s circle theoretical account is one of the most recognized fluctuation of Hotelling ‘s location theoretical account. The circle theoretical account besides looks to analyze consumers ‘ penchant in relation to a house ‘s geographic location. However, the theoretical account introduces two important factors, foremost that houses are located around a circle with no end-points and secondly there is the option for the consumer to take a 2nd heterogenous good. The measure demanded of a competitory house is the undermentioned expression, qc= 2XcL, hence the competitory demand inquiry is:

Qm= L/C = V – C ( 1/n – Ninety ) – Phosphorus

The Salop and Hotelling location theoretical accounts are relevant to the competition within the UK supermarket industry. This is due to supermarkets normally being located really near geographically to each other. Consequently the theoretical accounts tell us that the competition is related to the geographical location of shops in relation to others.

Marketing mix

The selling mix is the traditional method of analysis used to categorize methods of selling, developed by McCarthy ( 1960 ) . The major selling direction determinations can be classified in one of the following four classs ; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. These variables are known as the selling mix, houses attempt to bring forth positive response from their mark market by intermixing the four selling mix variables in an optimum mode. Within the non-price competition facet of a house ‘s usage of the selling mix at that place needs to be focus on the all of the P ‘s with the exclusion of Price.

A farther updated and more client-oriented selling doctrine are known as the C ‘s, developed by Robert Lauterborn and put frontward by Philip Kotler. There statement was that the selling mix was excessively product-oriented and modern selling should take into history the convenience of the client when choosing selling scheme. The alteration to the classs within the selling mix is as follows:

Place becomes Convenience

Price becomes Cost to the user

Promotion becomes Communication

Merchandise becomes Customer demands and wants

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Within the subject of making sustainable competitory advantage there has been much argument as to how houses can successfully pull off to accomplish a long term advantage. This argument has brought two noteworthy attacks, the placement attack and the resource based position.

The resource-based position of the house seeks to explicate sustainable competitory advantage through the rent gaining capableness of internal scarce resources while the selling paradigm stresses the demand for external market orientation to accomplish competitory success. ( Hooley, Broderick & A ; Moller, 1998 )

‘A house is said to hold a sustained competitory advantage when it is implementing a value making scheme non at the same time being implemented by any current or possible rivals and when these other houses are unable to double the benefits of this scheme ‘ ( Barney, 1991 ) . The resource-based position provinces that competitory advantage can be obtained by utilizing valuable resources and capablenesss that its rivals are unable to copy ( Barney 1986, 1991 ) . This position emphasises the importance of the alone resources and capablenesss of a house as they provide the way for corporate scheme, the chief beginning of net incomes every bit good as any sustainable competitory advantages held by the house. Consequently resource and capablenesss are treated as the foundation of long-run corporate scheme and accent in strategic thought ( Wernerfelt 1984, Grant 1991 ) .

The resource-based position unfavorable judgments are centred on the attack ‘s focal point on inactive resources and pretermiting the influence of external factors on a house in an ever-changing environment. ( Teece 1982, Eisenhart & A ; Martin 2000 ) .

The placement attack deems that houses should concentrate on competitory analysis in the industry-specific environment in order to derive a sustainable competitory advantage ( Porter, 1980 ) . This allows a house to be able to set its scheme in order to accomplish improved public presentation. Porter argued that a company had to place itself within its industry so that it outperforms its rivals in monetary value and/or quality. This may be by working the implicit in economic factors such as economic systems of graduated table. The ‘outside-in ‘ nature of this scheme is ductile depending upon the external environment of the specific industry. This places importance upon analysing the external environment for which Porter developed a ‘five forces model ‘ ( Porter, 1979 ) utilizing Industrial Organization ( IO ) economic sciences to deduce five forces that determine the competitory strength and hence attraction of a market. These forces are:

The menace of replacement merchandises

The menace of the entry of new rivals

The strength of competitory competition

The bargaining power of clients

The bargaining power of providers

A ‘sixth force ‘ has besides been described as an concomitant to beef up Porters theory by Brandenburger and Nalebuff ( 1995 ) . They introduced the construct of ‘complementors ‘ ( being the authorities or the populace ) to explicate the logical thinking behind strategic confederations get the better ofing unfavorable judgments.

Positioning depends upon utilizing the beginnings of competitory advantage and how the undermentioned generic schemes are used, cost leading, distinction and market cleavage ( Porter, 1980 ) . Market cleavage is narrow in range whereas both cost leading and distinction are by and large wide in range. As a low cost leader a company seeks to be ‘the lowest cost provider, functioning the most client sections ‘ . By forging the lowest possible cost base the house stands to increase their possible cost borders, every bit long as this is above norm within the industry the company stands to be profitable. This may be achieved through economic systems of graduated table, the experience to anticipate greater efficiency and range of the activities over which an advantage is sought.

The alternate section to concentrate on is distinction. If a company is able to distinguish itself from its challengers by making a alone merchandising point it can derive a competitory advantage. This can be achieved through Kirznian entrepreneurship ( 1973 ) where the house notices something that is complimentary cognition, but that cipher else knew or had antecedently acted upon. By adding to an bing a merchandise in footings of a characteristics, branding or bringing system it can make a higher sensed value for clients.

Porter ‘s generic schemes received unfavorable judgment sing the fixed nature of the schemes he described. Miller ( 1992 ) questioned the thought of being ‘caught in the center ‘ ; he maintained that there is feasible in-between land among the schemes.

Subsequently work that has offered lucidity to some of these inquiries, whilst still being consistent with the overall placement attack was produced by Cliff Bowman and David Faulkner ( 1996 ) , known as the ‘Strategy Clock ‘ . Bowman claims that the cardinal variables from a consumer ‘s position are monetary value and sensed quality. Different countries of the clock represent different countries of clients ‘ demands in footings of value for money coupled with the different countries for accomplishing competitory advantage. These schemes can be described as ‘market confronting ‘ or as an ‘outside in attack ‘ and enable a heterogenous attack to scheme.

Using these variables as axes a scope of generic options can be identified for a house within an industry. Shown in figure ( no ) is the scheme clock, there are the five potentially successful paths and three paths that are finally likely to neglect.

Beginning: S.I.B Lecture slides

Strategic Groups

The term strategic group was coined by Hunt ( 1972 ) whilst carry oning an analysis of an industry and it was noticed that a higher grade of competitory competition was taking topographic point than expected by the concentration ratios. This more competitory environment was put down to the being of sub-groups within the industry that cause houses to vie on different dimensions doing silent collusion harder ( more complex? ) . As a effect of these asymmetrical strategic groups the industry had more rapid invention, lower monetary values, higher quality and lower profitableness than traditional economic theoretical accounts would foretell. The work of Hunt was so developed by Porter ( 1980 ) and included in his overall system of strategic analysis.

A strategic group theoretical account for the UK supermarket industry shown in figure ( no ) was proposed by Lawler & A ; Yang ( 2003 ) . The theoretical account displays the strategic groups present within the market along the axis of monetary value and whether the shops are used as primary or secondary stores. It is suggested that each of the nutrient shop formats shown in the figure constitute new strategic groups and each offer a alone mix of monetary value, non-price and service features ( Marion 1991 ) . demo expression to sort different nutrient shop formats into new strategic groups.

Industry Context

Power in the supermarket industry

Due to the high market portion held by the prima houses much of the modern literature refering the UK supermarket industry has been sing power in the sector ( Burt & A ; Sparks 2003, Lawler & A ; Yang 2003, CC 2000, 2003, 2008 ) .There has been grounds of prima houses utilizing inordinate power over both providers and consumers ( CC 2000, 2008 ) . Firms such as Asda, Morrison, Sainsbury ‘s and Tesco were found guilty of collusion in respects to the monetary value of certain dairy merchandises. These anti-competitive patterns saw the prima houses use their power to the hurt of the consumer ( OFT 2007 ) . Tesco in peculiar have been found to utilize regional monopolistic environments in order to leverage power over the consumer, puting anti-competitive monetary values ( CC 2008 ) . As the largest retail merchant, Tesco has decidedly managed to utilize its power over providers. The Competition Commission study on supermarkets ( 2000 ) observed that the bigger a retail merchant is, the more able it is to pull out lower monetary values from providers. The committee found that Tesco systematically paid providers 4 % below the industry norm ( CC 2000 ) .

Concentration in the supermarket industry

Burt & A ; Sparks ( 2003 ) propose from their ‘spiral of supermarket growing ‘ , shown in figure ( no ) , that that with the outgrowth of a market leader ( Tesco ) other officeholders will hold trouble viing and keeping market portion. They claim that ‘the current usage of perpendicular and horizontal power has lead to a state of affairs where one [ or two ] dominant ironss emerge ‘ ( Burt & A ; Sparks 2003:250 ) which will further increase the concentration of the market. However in the 2009 fiscal twelvemonth Tesco has been said to be wavering while Sainsbury ‘s, Morrisons and Asda have been executing good ( Mintel 2009 ) . Although Mintel ‘s study besides commented that while Tesco ‘s growing has fallen behind that of its rivals in 2009 they have managed to describe growing for the last 15 old ages systematically.