Price Competition and Product Differentiation When Consumers Care for the Environment

Abstract

Increasing environmental awareness may affect the pleasure of consuming a good for which an environment friendly substitute is available. In this paper, we investigate the market implication of product differentiation when customers are concerned about environmental aspects of the good. We use the spatial duopoly model to determine how environmental concern affects prices, product characteristics and market shares of the competing firms. Our analysis is based on a two-stage game, where at the first stage each firm chooses the characteristic of its product. At the second stage, each firm chooses its price. Equilibrium prices and market shares are affected by consumer awareness of the environment and by the higher costs for producing those goods. As for the Nash equilibria in the characteristics, we find three equilibria depending on the parameter constellation. In order to find out whether the market functions in an optimal way, we determine the choice of environmental characteristics by a welfare maximizing authority. The objective of the paper is to understand the environmental quality choices facing firms and to provide policies that would align private choices with the social optimum.

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Correspondence to Klaus Conrad.

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JEL classifications: L11, Q38, H23

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Conrad, K. Price Competition and Product Differentiation When Consumers Care for the Environment. Environ Resource Econ 31, 1–19 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-004-6977-8

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Keywords

  • environmental awareness
  • green market
  • product differentiation
  • quality competition