Glenn’s family used to own a local hardware store before Cloud 9 entered the market and put them out of business. Cloud 9 was probably able to take advantage of economies of scale and a large distribution network to offer competing products at lower prices. Monopolistic competition in the long run results in zero profits for firms, but if a small company already has relatively little profit before entry, a decrease in demand could result in that particular firm incurring losses and leaving the market. Because Sturgis and Sons specialized in hardware, some of those workers may be structurally unemployed if their skills are no longer needed in the local market. Later in the episode, Glenn finally shares his frustration with Cloud 9 and how they killed his family’s business because of their devotion to profit maximization.
Garret notices that the store sells two dresses that look identical, but one is marketed as a white dress and the other is a white wedding dress. The wedding dress costs $200, but the other dress only costs $30. The wedding industry is notorious for high markups on products that are labeled for weddings because brides and grooms often have fairly inelastic demand for their products. Because of this inelastic demand, firms are able to price discriminate and charge higher prices.
Glenn is embarrassed about how he handled a gay couple earlier in the episode and he seeks Mateo’s help in trying to differentiate their product offering by providing a section tailored to gay weddings. Even though Mateo points out that it’s the same as s straight wedding, Glenn is convinced they should setup a section specific to gay weddings. Product differentiation is a characteristic of monopolistically competitive firms. By offering a specific section of the store to one group of people, Cloud 9 can set themselves apart from other retailers.
Adam has a YouTube channel where he shows people how to cook, but how does he differentiate himself from all of the other YouTube shows out there? His episodes are done in real time, which means that while his ribs are cooking for 2 hours, he just stands there and waits. He hates when shows just cut to the end and the meat is fully cooked. Jonah and Adam both remark that they never see that online, which implies that’s probably not really a feature people want.
A customer is having trouble identifying a new toothbrush to help with his tartar problem. With all the options available, some companies advertise as being good at fighting plaque while others focus on tartar prevention. When consumers have a lot of options, it’s sometimes hard to fully consider the tradeoffs. This paradox of choice can explain why some people don’t behave rationally when presented with a seemingly overwhelming number of options.
Cloud 9 has developed their own brand of salsa called Señor Cloud Salsa. In an attempt to seem more authentic, the store manager is looking for employees to offer samples to customers. Glenn believes this will be a key selling point that differentiates their store brand from more recognizable substitutes in the store. Successful product differentiation gives firms some market power and the ability to charge a price greater than marginal cost.