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In business literature, commoditization is defined as the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers. It is the movement of a market from differentiated to undifferentiated price competition and from monopolistic to perfect competition. Hence, the key effect of commoditization is that the pricing power of the manufacturer or brand owner is weakened: when products become more similar from a buyer's point of view, they will tend to buy the cheapest. This is not to be confused with commodification, which is a Marxist term for things being assigned economic value which they (according to Marxist theory) did not previously possess, by their being produced and presented for sale, as opposed to personal use.
One way to summarize the difference is that commoditization is about proprietary things becoming generic, whereas commodification is about nonsaleable things becoming saleable.
In social sciences, particularly anthropology, the term is used interchangeably with commodification to describe the process of making commodities out of any thing that did not used to be available for trade previously.
- Rushkoff, Douglas (2005-09-04). "Commodified vs. Commoditized". Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- Appadurai, Arjun, ed. (1986). The Social Life of Things: Commodities in a Cultural Perspective. Cambridge UP, Cambridge.
- Greenwood, D.J. (1977). "'Culture by the Pound: An Anthropological Perspective on Tourism as Cultural Commoditization". In Hosts and Guests, ed. V. L. Smith, pp. 129-139. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.