The Rise of Niche Consumption

40 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2019 Last revised: 2 Nov 2020

See all articles by Brent Neiman

Brent Neiman

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joseph Vavra

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 30, 2020

Abstract

Over the last 15 years, the typical household has increasingly concentrated its spending on a few preferred products. However, this is not driven by “superstar” products capturing larger market shares. Instead, households increasingly purchase different products from each other. As a result, aggregate spending concentration has decreased. We develop a model of heterogeneous household demand and use it to conclude that increasing product variety drives these divergent trends. When more products are available, households select products better matched to their tastes. This delivers welfare gains from selection equal to about half a percent per year in the categories covered by our data. Our model features heterogeneous markups because producers of popular products care more about their existing customers while producers of less popular niche products care more about generating new customers. Surprisingly, our model matches the observed trends in household and aggregate concentration without any change in aggregate market power.

Keywords: Product Concentration, Niche Products, Market Power, Markups, Long-tail

JEL Classification: E21, E31, D12, D4

Suggested Citation

Neiman, Brent and Vavra, Joseph, The Rise of Niche Consumption (October 30, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2019-102, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3432536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3432536

Brent Neiman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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Joseph Vavra

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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