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Imperfect Competition


Imperfect competition refers to a market structure where the conditions for perfect competition, such as numerous buyers and sellers, equal market information, and negligible barriers to entry, are not fully met. In this scenario, individual market players can influence the prices, production, and other market factors to some extent. Examples of imperfect competition include oligopoly, monopolistic competition, and monopoly.


The phonetics of the keyword “Imperfect Competition” can be represented as: /ɪmˈpɜːrfɪkt kəmˈpɛtɪʃən/

Key Takeaways

  1. Imperfect competition refers to the market structure where there are multiple firms with some degree of market power, and hence, they can set their own prices and influence the market. This is in contrast to perfect competition, where firms have no market power and are price takers.
  2. In imperfect competition, companies differentiate themselves through product quality, marketing, branding, and other factors that allow them to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. These differentiating factors lead to varying levels of demand and allow companies to charge different prices for similar products or services.
  3. Imperfect competition can result in inefficiencies, such as monopolistic competition and oligopoly, where the market power of a few firms can lead to higher prices for consumers and lower levels of output. On the other hand, it can also lead to increased innovation and product variety, as firms seek to differentiate themselves and attract consumers.


Imperfect competition is an important concept in business and finance because it reflects the actual market conditions that exist in most industries. Unlike the theoretical construct of perfect competition — where numerous small firms, identical products, perfect information, and equal market access lead to optimal pricing and resource allocation — imperfect competition acknowledges the presence of market imperfections such as product differentiation, limited number of sellers, barriers to entry, and unequal access to information. By recognizing these real-world complexities, the concept of imperfect competition enables economists, policymakers, and business leaders to analyze the behavior of firms and markets, understand the impact of strategies and regulations, and develop policies to promote market efficiency, consumer welfare, and sustainable growth.


Imperfect competition refers to the market situation in which individual players have some level of control over the market conditions, allowing them to set prices, produce differentiated products, and influence demand to a certain extent. One of the primary purposes of acknowledging imperfect competition in business and finance is to understand the realistic market scenarios, as perfect competition is more of an abstract theoretical concept. By examining and evaluating the dynamics of imperfect competition, businesses and investors can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that drive various market structures such as monopolies, oligopolies, and monopolistic competition. In essence, imperfect competition is used as a tool for businesses and policymakers to devise strategies, regulations, and pricing policies that account for different market structures. This is critical, as each structure presents unique challenges and opportunities for businesses in terms of entry barriers, production costs, and competitive advantage. In addition, understanding imperfect competition helps businesses maintain and increase their market share, while allowing governments to intervene if necessary to prevent negative impacts on consumers, such as price gouging or unfair business practices. Studying these variations of competitive environments promotes a greater awareness of the nuances businesses face, ultimately fostering decisive actions and decision-making that benefits the overall economy.


Imperfect competition refers to a market structure where the conditions for perfect competition are not satisfied, and individual firms have the ability to influence market prices due to factors like product differentiation, market power, or barriers to entry. Here are three real-world examples of imperfect competition: 1. Monopolistic Competition: Small coffee shops in a city represent monopolistic competition. Each shop sells similar products (coffee, pastries, sandwiches) but differentiates itself based on factors like taste, price, location, and ambiance. No single coffee shop dominates the market, and each one has some degree of control over its own pricing. Customers have the opportunity to choose among a variety of similar but not identical products, leading to non-price competition. 2. Oligopoly: The smartphone industry is a good example of an oligopoly. In this market, a small number of significant companies like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei dominate the market share. These firms differentiate their products based on features, price, and design, leading to competition between them. However, due to high entry barriers like the need for significant capital investment, research and development, and brand loyalty, new entrants have difficulty capturing a significant market share. 3. Monopoly: A local utility company, such as a water or electricity supplier, is often an example of a monopoly. In many cases, the local government will grant a single company the exclusive right to provide the service in a particular area. This eliminates competition, as there are no other suppliers and substitutes for these essential services. As a result, the utility company has significant control over the pricing and quality of the service provided, leading to an example of imperfect competition in the form of a monopoly.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is imperfect competition?
Imperfect competition is a market structure in which there is limited competition between firms, allowing them to possess some control over market prices, product differentiation and barriers to entry for potential competitors. It deviates from the ideal scenario of perfect competition.
What are the main characteristics of imperfect competition?
The main characteristics of imperfect competition include:1. A large number of buyers and sellers2. Product differentiation3. Limited market power4. Barriers to entry and exit5. Non-price competition6. Asymmetrical information
How does imperfect competition affect market prices and output?
In imperfect competition, firms have some control over market prices due to product differentiation and limited competition. As a result, they face a downward-sloping demand curve and can set their own prices. This leads to less effective allocation of resources and higher prices compared to perfect competition.
What are some examples of imperfect competition markets?
Examples of imperfect competition markets include monopolistic competition, where there are many firms offering differentiated products with limited competition, and oligopoly, where a small number of firms control the majority of the market by offering similar or differentiated products.
How does imperfect competition contrast with perfect competition?
Imperfect competition differs from perfect competition in several ways. In perfect competition, there are numerous firms offering homogeneous (identical) products, whereas imperfect competition features product differentiation. Perfect competition assumes no barriers to entry or exit, while imperfect competition often has barriers. In perfect competition, market prices are set through supply and demand, with firms having no control over them, while firms in imperfect competition can influence prices.
What are some real-world examples of imperfect competition?
Real-world examples of imperfect competition include the smartphone industry, with firms like Apple and Samsung dominating the market; the airline sector, where companies offer differentiated services and have significant market power; and the retail clothing industry, with brands differentiating their products through design and marketing.
Is imperfect competition harmful to consumers?
Imperfect competition can have both positive and negative effects on consumers. On one hand, it often results in higher prices and less efficient allocation of resources compared to perfect competition, which may harm consumers. On the other hand, imperfect competition leads to product differentiation, allowing consumers to choose from a diverse range of products that meet their specific preferences and needs. This diversity can increase consumer satisfaction.

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