The Max-Min-Min Principle of Product Differentiation



We analyze two and three-dimensional variants of Hotelling's model of differentiated products. In our setup, consumers can place different importances on each product attribute; these are measured by weights on the disutility of distance in each dimension. Two firms play a two-stage game; they choose locations in stage 1 and prices in stage 2. We seek subgame-perfect equilibria. We find that all such equilibria have maximal differentiation in one dimension only; in all other dimensions they have minimum differentiation. An equilibrium with maximal differentiation in a certain dimension occurs when consumers place sufficient importance (weight) on that attribute. Thus, depending on the importance consumers place on each attribute, in two dimensions there is a max-min equilibrium, a min-max equilibrium, or both. In three dimensions, depending on the weights, there can be a max-min-min equilibrium, a min-max-min equilibrium, a min-min-max equilibrium, any two of these, or all three.