Lately in class we have spent some time discussing market structure and the 4 types of suppliers/sellers. The bicycle industry was used as an example a couple of times. One company was used in the pricing matrix to show how a supplier dictating price would benefit both the supplier and the seller.
Unfortunately even in an oligopolistic bicycle part industry (virtually only two competitors) sometimes dictating price can backfire on a company.
A recent article By Michael Gamstetter in the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News discusses the frustrations of some retailers not being able to compete on price for customers’ business due to more and more distributors/manufacturers forcing prices on consumers. If the retailers don’t play they’re blackballed Shimano bids Branford Bike Adieu
Market share leader Shimano Components is surrendering its 20 year dominance to former industry leader Campagnolo by trying to monopolize the entire market and failing miserably in the process.
So what will the consumer gain from all of this infighting? For now not much. The bicycle consumer is forced to no longer shop on price (everyone is charging the same) but more on the speed and cost of shipping. Local bike shops who saw sales plunge as mail and cyber order companies grew because of cheaper pricing won’t gain much business either, because they’re forced to charge the same price also.
In the end nobody is a winner and until free market competition gives consumers more choice of price everyone is a loser.