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Why is it easier for firms with backward integration to price discriminate?

Relevant Topics

This question pertains to topics in Microeconomics, such as Price Discrimination, Backward Integration, Market Power, and Imperfect Information.

Definitions:

Price Discrimination: This is a pricing strategy in which a firm charges different prices to different customers for the same product or service, based on their willingness to pay, rather than any differences in the cost of supply.
Backward Integration: This refers to a type of vertical integration where a company expands its role to fulfil tasks previously completed by businesses up the supply chain.

Detailed Explanation:

Backward Integration allows firms to control the supply of key inputs, therefore granting them greater market power. By controlling the production or supply of raw materials, they have better control over their cost structure, which can facilitate price discrimination.

Price discrimination is more manageable when the firm has:
Market Power: Backward integration can enhance a firm's market power by reducing competition in the supply of inputs. This market power allows firms to control prices more effectively.
Imperfect Information: By controlling an aspect of the supply chain, a firm may also gain access to better information about costs, customer demand, or competitors' behaviour, allowing them to adjust prices to maximise profit from different market segments.

Recent:

Apple Inc.: Apple has pursued a strategy of backward integration by designing its own chips for its devices. By doing so, Apple has more control over the production costs and can implement a version of price discrimination, charging different prices in different countries based on factors such as income levels and competition.

Starbucks: Starbucks vertically integrates by owning its coffee farms, which gives them control over their input quality and costs. This allows Starbucks to effectively employ price discrimination, as they can vary the prices of their coffee products based on regional income levels, competition, and willingness to pay.

Summary:

In conclusion, firms with backward integration can find it easier to price discriminate because they have more control over their cost structures and more access to market information. This enhanced control and information can allow them to more effectively segment the market and adjust their pricing strategies to maximise profits.

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