Market Definition in Differentiated Goods When the Final Consumer Buys the Good: Insights from the H&R Block Case

26 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2014  

Malcolm B. Coate

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Date Written: February 12, 2014

Abstract

This paper addresses the development of market definition analysis in three recent merger cases (Staples, Whole Foods, and H&R Block). The discussion traces the evolution of the market concept from the naïve Brown Shoe criteria to a price discrimination analysis implicit in Staples to the current application of diversion theory in the H&R Block case. By replacing fact with theory, this theoretical approach runs the risk of returning to the world of Brown Shoe. Additional discussion of H&R Block suggests that price discrimination remains relevant and could have been developed through further factual study. Moreover, even if theory is used to define a narrow market, the analyst must address a range of entry issues before concluding that the merger is likely to substantially lessen competition.

Keywords: market definition, differentiated goods, H&R Block, price discrimination, merger policy

JEL Classification: K21, L40

Suggested Citation

Coate, Malcolm B., Market Definition in Differentiated Goods When the Final Consumer Buys the Good: Insights from the H&R Block Case (February 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2394783 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2394783

Malcolm B. Coate (Contact Author)

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ( email )

601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
United States

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