The product is perishable Firms need to sell their wares before they spoil and becomeworthless.

The product is perishable Firms need to sell their wares before they spoil and becomeworthless.

Understanding the intensity of rivalry among an industry’s competitors is important because the degree of intensity helps shape the industry’s profit potential. Of particular concern is whether firms in an industry compete based on price. When competition is bitter and cutthroat, the prices competitors charge—and their profit margins—tend to go down. If, on the other hand, competitors avoid bitter rivalry, then price wars can be avoided and profit potential increases.

Every industry is unique to some degree, but there are some general characteristics that help to predict the likelihood that fierce rivalry will erupt. Rivalry tends to be fierce, for example, to the extent that the growth rate of demand for the industry’s offerings is low (because a lack of new customers forces firms to compete more for existing customers), fixed costs in the industry are high (because firms will fight to have enough customers to cover these costs), competitors are not differentiated from one another (because this forces firms to compete based on price rather than based on the uniqueness of their offerings), and exit barriers in the industry are high (because firms do not have the option of leaving the industry gracefully). Exit barriers can include emotional barriers, such as the bad publicity associated with massive layoffs, or more objective reasons to stay in an industry, such as a desire to recoup considerable costs that might have been previously spent to enter and compete.

Table 3.10 Industry Concentration Industry concentration refers to the extent to which large firms dominate an industry. Buyers and suppliers

generally have more bargaining power when they are from concentrated industries. This is because the firms that do business with them have fewer options when seeking buyers and suppliers. One popular way to measure industry concentration is via the percentage of total industry output that is produced by the four biggest competitors. Below are examples of industries that have high (80%-100%), medium (50%-79%), and low (below 50%) levels of concentration.

3.4 Evaluating the Industry 90

High-Concentration Industries

Circuses (89%) and Breakfast cereal manufacturing (85%)

Medium-Concentration Industries

Flight training (52%) and Sugar manufacturing (60%)

Low-Concentration (or “Fragmented”) Industries


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