Friday, April 17, 2015

An Empirical Study of the Impact of Product Variety on Demand Concentration

TAN Tom F., NETESSINE Serguei, HITT Lorin
Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2015/32/TOM/ACGRE 
revised version of 2014/44/TOM/ACGRE

We empirically examine the impact of expanded product variety on demand concentration using large data sets from the movie rental industry. We find that product variety is likely to increase demand concentration, which goes against the “Long Tail effect” theory predicting that demand would become less concentrated on “hit” products due to expanded product variety. We further provide evidence that this finding is not due to introducing many low-selling niche products as the intuition might suggest. Instead, we discover that increasing product variety diversifies the demand away from each movie title, but less significantly for hits than for niche products. In particular, we find that increasing product variety by 1,000 titles may increase the Gini coefficient of DVD rentals by 0.001, which translates to increasing the market share of the top 1% of DVDs by 1.09% and the market share of the top 10% of DVDs by 0.19%. At the same time the market share of the bottom 1% of DVDs is reduced by 14.37% while the market share of the bottom 10% of DVDs is reduced by 3.87%. We rule out alternative explanations, using a variety of “Long Tail” metrics, capturing movie format/distribution channel interaction and customer heterogeneity.