Aftermarket (merchandise)

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In many economic literature, the term “Aftermarket” refers to a secondary market for the goods and services that are 1) complementary or 2) related to its primary market goods (original equipment).[1][2][3]

Thus, in many industries, the primary market consists of durable goods, whereas the aftermarket consists of consumable or non-durable products or services.[4]

Accordingly, the “aftermarket goods” mainly include products and services for replacement parts, upgrade, maintenance and enhancement of the use of its original equipment.[3][5]

The Essentials of Aftermarket[edit]

There are two essentials of the aftermarket: installed base and lock-in effect.[6][7][8]

Installed base[edit]

A certain level of installed base of original equipment customers is necessary for the sufficient demand of aftermarket products.[9]

Therefore, significant installed base normally makes aftermarket profitable as an established installed base is likely to consume the aftermarket products repeatedly over the lifespan of their durable goods.[6]

Lock-in effect (also Installed-base opportunism)[7][edit]

Lock-in effect or installed-base opportunism refers to the situation where the customers can only consume the aftermarket goods produced by original equipment manufacturer.

The reason could be:

1) Compatibility between primary and aftermarket goods which requires switching costs of original equipment

2) contractual means which imposes penalty

3) provision of incentives to use specific primary and aftermarket products

These two essentials, installed base and lock-in effect, make aftermarket less volatile relative to primary market and therefore more likely to be profitable.[6]

The Aftermarket Strategy[edit]

The most well-known aftermarket strategy model is “Gillette’s razor and blades business model” also known as “Freebie marketing[6] whereby a product is largely discounted or even free as a loss leader in order to increase the sales of its complementary goods.[9][10]

Often the durable goods are offered at a low price (or even below marginal cost) in order to attract new customers amid competitive primary markets and the loss from the primary market will be rebated by the profits from consumables in aftermarket.[9][10]

In this case, an established installed base is essential to ensure sustainable business practice.[9]

Tying or Bundling of aftermarket products with original equipment also could be the strategies for aftermarket.[10][11]


1) Inkjet printer and printer cartridges is well-known example of original equipment and its aftermarket products.

Many inkjet printer manufacturers employs the technology making their printer only compatible with the printer cartridges they also manufactures in order to increase their aftermarket profits.[12]

*Inkjet printer market = Primary goods market (competitive) / Its printer cartridges market = Aftermarket (monopolised) by technological lock-in effect

2) Many mobile network carriers offers contracts by which consumers could get a mobile phone device for a lower price or even free in exchange for long-term network service contract.[6]

Mobile phone device = Primary goods / Network carriers market = Aftermarket (competitive) but monopolised by the long-term contractual lock-in effect

3) Some automobiles only could be fixed by the specially trained engineers from the company manufacturing those cars.[6]

Automotive market = Primary goods market (competitive) / After-service = Aftermarket (monopolised) by unique expertise from the manufacturer causes lock-in effect

Aftermarket Monopolisation[edit]

There have been a significant number of economic literature discussing about the aftermarket monopolisation after US Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in the case Eastman Kodak Company v. Image Technical Service.[1][5][7]

The key issue of the debate is whether the monopolisation in the aftermarket harms customers and social welfare.[1][4]

The Chicago School[edit]

The Chicago school economists and its advocates assert that aftermarket monopolisation would not be harmful as following reasons:[7][13]

a) The primary market and its aftermarket altogether should be considered as a single joint market since they are to a large extent related;

unless both primary and aftermarket are monopolised, there will be no anticompetitive impact in monopolising either of them.

b) Consumers are rational and farsighted so that they could accurately reckon the whole lifecycle cost of a product including original equipment and other aftermarket costs for its usage;

a supplier is not able to charge supracompetitive prices in the aftermarket or

c) Even if the supplier is able to charge supracompetitive prices in the aftermarket, these profits should be employed to lower the price of the original equipment in order to attract the consumers in its primary market.

In addition, the Chicago school argues that Aftermarket monopolisation enables manufacturers to afford the investments in quality improvement of their original equipment; consumers may benefit from the quality primary goods for lower price and overall economic efficiency therefore increases.[2][3]

The Post-Chicago School[edit]

In contrast to the Chicago School, the post-Chicago school asserts that the monopolisation in the aftermarket could harm consumer welfare as following reasons:[7][8]

a) The profits from the increase in prices in the monopolised aftermarket tend to outweigh the loss from the decrease in new sales in the primary market competition;

exploiting installed base might be more profitable than competing in the primary market

b) Moreover, high switching costs of primary goods worsen the lock-in effect;

monopolists have more incentives to exploit the locked-in customers with the supracompetitive pricing

c) Customers are not always farsighted, but myopic;

they are highly focusing on the upfront costs of original equipment which allows manufacturers to exploit them by the supracomeptitive pricing in the aftermarket

In addition, the post Chicago economists argue that the primary market where the investments costs in original equipment are largely subsidised by the profits from its monopolised aftermarket tend to be anticompetitive as entry into a market will be difficult without installed base.[1]


Although Chicago school economists assumes that theoretically consumers are farsighted and rational, the results of a number of empirical economic literature insist that consumers are in many cases highly myopic towards the sophisticated choices.

Thus, it has been consented now that aftermarket monopolisation has potential harms even when consumers are fully informed about the whole lifecycle costs with the competitive primary market.

Following is a list of factors making aftermarket monopolisation more harmful.[7]

1.High switching cost of original equipment (primary goods)

2. Lack of complete contracts (unclear)

3. A large number of uninformed customers (exploitable installed base)

4. Low quality information (validity)

5. Large aftermarket (large installed base)

6. High proportion of locked-in customers relative to new customers (also large installed base)

7. Weak competition on the primary market (easy to maximise profits)

8. High discount rate (incentive to exploit the installed base in order to set-off the loss from discount on primary goods)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Vootman, John J (1993). "curbing aftermarket monopolisation". J. Legis. 
  2. ^ a b Waldman, Michael (2003-01-01). "Durable Goods Theory for Real World Markets". The Journal of Economic Perspectives 17 (1): 131–154. 
  3. ^ a b c Carlton, Dennis W.; Waldman, Michael (2010-04-01). "Competition, Monopoly, and Aftermarkets". Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 26 (1): 54–91. doi:10.1093/jleo/ewp006. ISSN 8756-6222. 
  4. ^ a b Cabral, Luis M. B. (2008-04-01). "Aftermarket Power and Basic Market Competition". Rochester, NY. 
  5. ^ a b Durable Goods Markets and Aftermarkets. doi:10.1057/9781137336583.0437. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Developing an Aftermarket Strategy". Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Coppi, Lorenzo (2007). "Aftermarket monopolization: the emerging consensus in economics.". Antitrust Bull.52,53. 
  8. ^ a b Kattan, Joseph (1993-07-01). "MARKET POWER IN THE PRESENCE OF AN INSTALLED BASE". Antitrust Law Journal 62 (1): 1–21. 
  9. ^ a b c d Jinhyuk, Lee; Jaeok, Park (2014-01-01). "PRICING OF COMPLEMENTARY GOODS AS AN IMPLICIT FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENT". Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics 55 (2): 207–228. 
  10. ^ a b c "Why Aftermarket Power Can Be Bad for Firms - Institut für Strategie, Technologie und Organisation (ISTO) - LMU München". (in German). Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  11. ^ Economides, Nicholas (2014-10-17). "Bundling and Tying". Rochester, NY. 
  12. ^ "The Inkjet Aftermarket: An Economic Analysis". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  13. ^ Telser, L. G. (1979-04-01). "A Theory of Monopoly of Complementary Goods". The Journal of Business 52 (2): 211–230.