Supply And Demand A Business Owners Guide
In the article, we break down the fundamentals of supply and demand and how to use this knowledge in your business.
Having a good understanding of supply and demand can assist in developing a price point for your products or services, increasing your profits, and also ensuring you stay competitive in your market.
Supply and demand is a concept in economics that explains price fluctuations and trade. It is the idea that the number of goods offered for sale will affect the price of those goods.
What Is Supply And Demand?
Supply and demand are the two primary market forces that drive price within a marketplace.
The relationship between:
- The amount of a product that producers want to sell
- The quantity that customers want to purchase
This is known as supply and demand in economics.
The combination of supply and demand in a market determines the price of a product or service.
The resultant price is known as the equilibrium price, and it symbolises a deal between the good’s producers and customers.
If the number of items provided by producers equals the quantity requested by consumers, we have what is known as a “balanced market”.
Price Influences On Supply And Demand
The volume of a product desired is affected by its price and other factors such as the pricing of other commodities, consumer income and preferences, and seasonal effects.
This is tested in what is known as fundamental economic research; firstly, all factors except the product’s price are typically held constant.
The study then examines the relationship between multiple price levels and the maximum quantity that customers may purchase at each of those prices.
A demand curve, which has a vertical axis for price and a horizontal axis for quantity, may be used to show the price-quantity combinations (see graph below).
Customers typically want to purchase more of a product the lower the price of the product is set.
It’s also important to consider this from the producer’s financial standpoint.
A business may be less motivated to produce products or services at a lower price even with the increased market appetite.
And inversely, that same business will be much more motivated to produce more products or services at a higher price point due to the increase in profit margin per product.
Those price-quantity combinations may be displayed on a supply curve, with the vertical axis representing price and the horizontal axis representing quantity (see graph below).
The amount of a commodity provided in the market (the supply) is determined by its price and several other factors, including:
- The pricing of alternative items
- Manufacturing technology
- The availability and cost of labour
- Other production factors such as raw materials
Non-price variables would cause the supply curve to vary, but changes in the commodity’s price may be tracked along a stable supply curve.
What Is Equilibrium?
When supply and demand collide, the quantity of an item buyers wants to buy equals the amount producers are willing to make.
To put it another way – it’s when the market has reached a condition of perfect equilibrium, with prices stabilising at levels that are acceptable to all stakeholders involved.
Let’s look at an example.
Company XYZ sells herbs, and during the winter, there is a lot of demand and an equal amount of supply. As a result, the markets are in a state of equilibrium.
After the winter season, supply will begin to decline, while demand may stay stable. To take advantage of and manage demand, Company XYZ will raise prices.
Once prices are high, demand will gradually decline, putting the markets back into balance.
Supply And Demand Laws That Affect Equilibrium
As discussed earlier, the unit price for a specific item will fluctuate until it reaches a price where the quantity requested by consumers equals the amount provided by producers.
This results in price and quantity economic equilibrium. To expand in this, some basic economic laws can affect the equilibrium price.
The essential supply and demand laws are:
- If demand rises while supply stays unchanged, the equilibrium price and quantity rise as well.
- Demand falls while supply remains constant, resulting in a lower equilibrium price.
- If supply rises while demand stays constant, the equilibrium price falls.
- If supply falls but demand stays constant, the equilibrium price rises.
The customer is assumed to be a rational decision-maker, and therefore, if a product’s price rises and the buyer is aware of all relevant facts, demand for that product will fall.
Contrastingly, demand would grow if prices dropped.
Example: supply influencing market prices
Example One: Grain harvests are plentiful throughout the year, and there is more grain on the market than most people would buy.
To get clear of the surplus supply of maise, farmers must lower the price of the grain, which reduces everyone’s price.
Example Two: There are a limited number of apples available due to the drought. There is a greater demand for apples than there are apples available. Apples get more and more costly.
Example: Demand influencing market prices
Example One: A popular item falls out of favour and is no longer deemed trendy. As a result, demand for the item plummets since it is no longer a must-have item for the season.
Example Two: A new restaurant in town, for example, has opened to excellent reviews. Even though the restaurant only has ten tables, everyone wants to make a reservation.
How Can This Help My Business?
Setting Your price
Understanding supply and demand is a precious tool to any business owner regardless of industry. One of the primary uses of this knowledge is to be able to set a price for your products or services.
Let’s use another example:
Let’s say that you’re a petrol supplier and you want to sell your petrol at high prices. You’ll be facing a market that wants to buy their petrol as cheap as possible.
If you try and sell your petrol at, for instance, $2.10 per litre, it probably wouldn’t sell very well.
But if you lower the price to $1.00 the litre, you’ll get many happy customers. The problem then is: you’re not satisfied because you haven’t seen a profit.
The key to resolving this dilemma, as alluded to above, is finding the sweet spot: that market equilibrium.
You can also use supply and demand to determine if your pricing is relevant to the market in which you operate.
If you have launched a new product into the market that already has thriving competition.
Through your marketing efforts, manage to gain lot’s of exposure to potential customers, yet no one buys your product; this could indicate your price is too high and needs to be reduced.
Increasing Your Gross Income
Another use for the theory of supply and demand is to increase your gross income. There are two primary ways to achieve this.
The first way is to be able to increase your prices incrementally until you achieve market equilibrium, the second way we will expand on below.
Let’s say you sell televisions, and your equilibrium is 100 televisions a year, each TV is sold for $1000, at the end of the year your business generates 100k and you have sold all of your stock.
Your gross profit from each TV is $100, leaving you with 10k in profit once all your stock is sold.
Now let’s say you you increase your price to $1200, as in the above demand explanation, your demand for TV’s will fall due to the price increase.
Your equilibrium becomes 80 units instead of 100 due to the lower, however, you now make a profit of $300 per TV.
At the end of the year, you have now made a gross profit (gross income) of 24k.
80 units x $300 in profit = $24,000
Now that you understand supply and demand and the basic principles, you can apply the knowledge to your business. Hopefully, this will assist with your pricing strategy.
Important note: If you are just starting as a sole trader or small to medium enterprise, you must understand your pricing may be influenced by the fact you are new to the market.
In these cases, the more customer feedback and research you can do, the better your understanding will be, and your market penetration strategy will become more accurate.