Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry
72 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006 Last revised: 10 Jun 2007
Date Written: January 1998
The ready-to-eat cereal industry is characterized by high concentration margins, large advertising to sales ratios, and numerous introductions of new products. Previous researchers have concluded that the ready-to-eat cereal industry is a classic example of an industry with nearly collusive pricing behavior and intense non-price competition. This paper empirically examines this conclusion. In particular, I estimate price-cost margins importantly I am able empirically to separate these margins into three parts: (1) that which is due to product differentiation; (2) that which is due to multi-product firm pricing; and (3) that due to potential price collusion. The results suggest that given the demand for different brands of cereal, the first two effects explain most of the observed price-cost markups. I conclude that prices in the industry are consistent with non-collusive pricing behavior to maintain a portfolio of differentiated products influence the perceived quality of these products, and it is these two factors that lead to high price-cost margins.
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