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What are Complementary Goods?

  • Samiksha Paria
  • Apr 09, 2022
What are Complementary Goods? title banner

In a number of well-known markets, customers must buy and utilize many items at the same time in order to receive positive utility. Consumption items are therefore highly complimentary, and value is produced from their combined consumption. 


Furthermore, the complex technology and know-how involved in the development of each product sometimes necessitates particular organizational abilities. As a result, we frequently find different enterprises manufacturing each of the items, with other firms creating the complement.


A complementary good is a product or service that provides value to another product or service. In other words, they are two things that the customer utilises in conjunction with one another. Cereal and milk, for example, or a DVD and a DVD player.


In other cases, complementary good is absolutely essential, such as gasoline and automobiles. A supplementary good, on the other hand, might add value to the originating product. Paratha and Ghee, for example.


Also Read | Purchasing Power Parity


What are Complementary Goods?


A complementary good or service is one that is utilized in conjunction with another product or service. When consumed alone, the complimentary product usually has little or no value. Nonetheless, when combined with another commodity or service, it adds to the entire worth of the bid. 


A product is deemed complementary if it has a mutually beneficial connection with another product. A good example would be butter/jam is often offered with bread.


The complementary items have a shared demand nature, which facilitates interaction since the buyer desires the replacement product whenever the price of the first varies. This link is known in economics as negative cross-elasticity of demand. As a result, as the price of the product grows, so does the user's desire for the replacement product. 


Customers are hesitant to purchase the supplement on its own owing to which as consumer demand declines, the market price of the complementary commodity or service may fall.


Because of the joint consumption feature, there is quality dependency in many complementary consumption instances: the utility obtained from one product is dependent not only on its own quality but also on the quality of the complement. A more powerful operating system improves performance only if the CPU can handle the increased code complexity.


The requirement for customers to acquire both commodities has strategic ramifications for the players involved. Specifically, if the revenue pie is defined as the entire amount customers spend on both complimentary items, the question of how this pie should be divided emerges.


Needless to add, enhancing quality necessitates large upfront R&D investments, which might confuse the quality decision because one manufacturer is relying on the efforts of its rival. Therefore, organizations manufacturing complimentary items must consider each other's quality standards while determining their own. 


The examples above highlight another crucial element of complementary goods: because both items must operate together, one is frequently produced after the other and to its requirements. For example, hardware architecture is created before software.


Most complementary goods that are used together fall into this category, even though they are not necessarily purchased together. Sellers frequently put together packages that customers might accept or reject (e.g., a package of standard equipment for a new car). 


In certain circumstances, distributors or customers create the package (for example, a stereo "system" composed of complementary components from competing corporations, such as a Sony receiver with Yamaha speakers, despite the fact that both brands supply both components).


Also Read | Factors affecting Supply of a Product


What is Cross Elasticity of Demand?


The cross elasticity of demand is an economic term that assesses the responsiveness of one commodity's quantity desired when the price of another good varies. 


This statistic, also known as cross-price elasticity of demand, is determined by dividing the percentage change in the amount requested of one item by the percentage change in the price of the other goods. The cross - price elasticity in cost and the cost towards how responsive a product's demand is to changes in the price of another product.


The demand for complementary items has a negative cross-elasticity. When the price of one thing rises, the price of another item that is closely related to that item and required for its consumption falls because demand for the main commodity has decreased.


For example, if the pricing rises, the demand for coffee stirring sticks falls because customers drink less coffee and need to buy fewer sticks. The numerator (the amount requested of stir sticks) in the formula is negative, while the denominator (the price of coffee) is positive. As a result, the cross elasticity is negative.

Graph that represents Price of Good in Y-axis and Demand of Complementary Goods in X-axis, making the Cross-Elasticity of Demand negative.

Graph representing Cross Elasticity Demand for Complementary Goods

Complementary goods and Negative Cross Elasticity Demand


Complementary commodities can be either weak or powerful. The weak goods have poor demand cross-elasticity. For example, if the price of coffee rises, it will only have a minor influence on the usage of cream.


Complementary products vary from replacement goods in that they are various commodities or services that meet the same customer demands. The extra items would have a negative demand cross-elasticity.


A negative cross elasticity of demand shows that when the price of product B rises, so will the demand for good A. This implies that A and B are complementary items, such as a printer and printer ink. If the printer's price rises, so will the demand for it. There are so few printers and toners.


What are Substitute Goods?


In economics and consumer theory, a replacement, or substitutable good, is a product or service that customers perceive to be fundamentally the same or similar-enough to another product. Simply said, a substitute good is a product that may be used instead of another.


Substitutes play a significant role in the marketplace and are seen positively by customers. They provide customers additional options, allowing them to better meet their demands. Because demand for one product rises as the price of the substitute good rises, the cross elasticity of demand for substitute goods is always positive.


Also Read | Elasticity of Demand



Difference between Substitute Goods and Complementary Goods


We’ve listed some of the basic differences between Substitute and Complementary Goods below :


  1. Substitute goods are goods that are regarded by the customer to be the same, such that they may be used in place of one another and deliver the same amount of satisfaction. Complementary Items, on the other hand, are goods that are utilized by the customer jointly and are useless when eaten alone. 


  1. Substitute goods may be used in lieu of one another to meet a certain need. Complementary Items, on the other hand, are goods that are eaten jointly to meet a certain need. 


  1. Price demand for substitute goods is direct, but price demand for complementary goods is inverse. 


  1. Gel Pen and Ball Pen are two examples of substitute goods. Solar panels and batteries are examples of complementary goods. 

Definition of Substitute Goods and Complementary Goods are prominent when we add examples. And these are some basic example of them.

Substitute Goods and Complementary Goods

How do Companies use Complementary Goods?


  1. Food items that are connected to each other will be placed near one other at supermarkets. For instance, next to pasta - pricey pasta sauces. By recommending possibly linked complimentary items, the company seeks to enhance total sales.


  1. Obtain loyal customers in order to earn related sales. Another technique a company might use is to sell a base product at a cheap price, knowing that if customers buy the 'base product,' they would buy more related (and profitable) add-on goods. 


For example, PlayStation owners have an incentive to reduce the price of the PlayStation itself.


  1. Lowering the price of gaming systems like the Playstation may allow the company to generate more money from licensed titles. Most printers are provided at low prices because printer manufacturers make the most money selling ink.


  1. An instant camera, for example, is promoted by a few businesses and offered on the market for only $40. Consumers may believe that a camera that takes a photo quickly for $40 is a wonderful value, but there is a catch.


The camera comes with an extra picture roll on which the photos shot are printed. Each picture roll, which may print 12-15 photographs, costs $20. As a result, per 12-15 photographs, customers must pay $20.


  1. For complementary commodities, here is where everything comes into play. On the one hand, although offering a product for as little as $40, the complimentary item that makes the camera usable is priced at a higher end depending on each use.


Also Read | Commodity Trading


Understanding Demand Vs Supply


The law of supply and demand is a theory that describes the relationship between sellers and purchasers of a resource. The idea describes the link between the price of a specific commodity or product and people's desire to purchase or sell it. 


People are often inclined to supply more and demand less when prices rise, and vice versa as prices fall. The idea is founded on two distinct "laws," the law of supply and the law of demand. The two laws work together to establish the real market price and number of commodities available on the market.




According to the rule of demand, assuming all other conditions stay constant, the greater the price of a commodity, the fewer people would desire that good. 


In other words, as the price rises, so does the amount requested. Buyers purchase less of a thing at a greater price because as the price of a good rises, so does the opportunity cost of purchasing that good.




The law of supply shows how many units are sold at a given price. In contrast to the law of demand, the supply connection has an increasing slope. This indicates that as the price rises, so will the amount offered. 


From the seller's perspective, the potential cost of each new unit grows steadily greater. Producers provide more at a higher price because the higher selling price offsets the greater opportunity cost of each extra unit sold.


Also Read | Demand and Supply


Challenges of Complementary Goods


Most big manufacturers and brands nowadays spend a significant amount of time and money researching and developing the most effective strategies to boost product purchases. 


This frequently incorporates a "peanut butter and jelly" sales method of associating with other market items that are highly compatible—or complementary. This long-standing practice in brick-and-mortar stores, known as cross-selling, has now evolved into an extremely effective online approach.


Of course, because each business is unique, determining where to display items AND which products to go alongside them may be a difficult procedure. To make matters worse, today's enormous panorama of retail touchpoints may be nearly hard to individually evaluate, analyze, and strategically employ.


Considerations ranging from audience aims to regional peculiarities, consumer expectations, competition tactics, and market development may make complementary matching a complex and ever-changing process. The world is continuously changing, and in order to keep up, brand managers must continually monitor trends and statistics.


How to overcome those Challenges?


While there are several digital programmes available to assist companies in cross-selling, the majority are not qualified to examine all of the critical aspects required before making that ready choice. This is when PriceSpider's monitoring features come in handy.


Digital marketers and brand managers now get a 360 ° view of their product pages across the sites of their retail partners, thanks to the ease of use of a beautifully designed dashboard. 


Companies may trace customers down to the transaction and observe exactly what they've purchased after they've left your website, even if they didn't buy your goods, using offers like Where to Buy. 


This may not only assist in creating a better overall compelling digital display, but it could also help precisely assess the greatest prospects for pairing with related items.


Also Read | Factors Affecting Price Elasticity of Demand


Complementary items increase the value of the primary product. They enable managers to make investment decisions for the production of a new product based on the price and demand changes of substitute goods. 

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