elasticity of demand
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Related to elasticity of demand: Elasticity of supply, Income elasticity of demand
Elasticity of demand
Elasticity of Demand
elasticity of demanda measure of the degree of responsiveness of DEMAND for a product to a given change in some economic variable, particularly its own price, the prices of competing products and consumers' income. In general terms, if there is a more than proportionate change in quantity demanded as a result of a change in a variable, then demand is said to be elastic, while if there is a less than proportionate change, then demand is inelastic. Price elasticity of demand is calculated using the formula:
which measures the effect on demand of an increase or decrease in the product's own price. Since the price-quantity demanded relationship determines the firm's total revenue from selling the product, the price elasticity of demand figure thus provides an indication of the way in which a change in price will affect the firm's revenues. For example, if, as in the case of cigarettes as a generic group in the UK, demand is highly inelastic (econometric studies put it at 0.32), then an increase in cigarette prices will increase total industry revenues more than proportionately. However, it is important to note that the demand for each of the many individual brands making up the market is likely to be much more elastic because they face competitive substitutes within the market (i.e. putting up the price of a particular brand is likely to result in buyers switching to other brands, and hence reduce the firm's revenues). The extent to which the demand for a brand is affected by a change in the price of a close substitute brand can be measured by the cross-elasticity of demand formula:
% change in quantity demanded of brand A % change in price of brand B
There are various practical difficulties, however, in the way of measuring elasticity values. For example, there is usually insufficient data available to construct a comprehensive ‘demand curve’ covering a wide range of price-quantity demanded combinations, and to isolate individual brand cross-elasticity effects in a multi-brand setting. See DEMAND-BASED PRICING.
Income elasticity of demand measures the degree of responsiveness of demand for a product to changes in consumers' income over time, namely:
The concept of income elasticity of demand is useful to corporate planners in indicating which industries are likely to decline or expand over time as income levels rise, and hence can make an important contribution to the formulation of a firm's DIVERSIFICATION and DIVESTMENT strategies. See PRICE DISCRIMINATION.