The purpose of this article is to show, based on the case of the French market, that consumer perception of different funeral service offers, along with new entry in a special storing facility service (“chambre funéraire”), can be suffcient to impose competitive pressures on the various suppliers, including the former monopolist. With a discrete choice experiment implemented in Lyon, France, we ﬁnd evidence that, contrary to widely shared beliefs about this speciﬁc market, demand for funeral services seems characterized by relatively high price elasticities, at least as soon as consumers are fully informed about the opportunities open to them in this market. Consumer behavior has actually changed in favor of a better assessment of the different possibilities of services supplied and of their relative price. We then implement simulations in local markets and show that, with good consumer information, the market power of the supposedly dominant ﬁrm is much less important than it is generally believed. Furthermore, simulations stress the procompetitive effects of setting up a new storing facility by any businesses. We ﬁnally show that, if some improvements can still be brought to the functioning of this market, they should come from a better regulation of consumer information and of the entry of ﬁrms.
How consumer information curtails market power in the funeral industry
14 January 2014