Understanding Barriers to Entry – Why they are Crucial!
Barriers to Entry Definition, Types & More: Any entrepreneur or company that ventures out into a business faces challenges. The external challenges that have a considerable economic impact to stop new entrants are termed as Barriers to Entry. Generally speaking, there have been many definitions of barriers to entry. Franklin Fisher defined it as “Anything that prevents entry when the entry is socially beneficial”. The vagueness of many such definitions has led to them being disregarded. If considered then even psychological barriers to becoming an entrepreneur would be included.
As per Investopedia, Barrier to Entry is the economic term describing obstacles from easily entering an industry or area of business. It goes without saying that these barriers are beneficial to existing players. This is because they result in increased profit from the market due to the reduced competition, thanks to the barriers. Today, we take a look at what exactly are Barriers to Entry.
Types of Barriers
The barriers to entry may involve innocent or deliberate factors. Innocent factors are those that may have come into existence without much direct influence from any of the stakeholders. Deliberate factors are those that have come into existence due to the actions of the stakeholders. The barriers are generally outlined under the following:
– Legal Barriers
Legal barriers are those that have been constructed by government or regulatory bodies. These may include licenses or permits required to conduct business, the red tape system or other standards and regulations to safeguard consumers. The legal factors vary from country to country further depending on the industry. According to the ease of doing business Index, India currently ranks 63rd.
Although it may seem that the legal factors may be independent of influence from existing players, this is not the case. Lobbying plays an important role too. Lobbying is the practice where an organization may undertake campaigns to pressure governments into specific public policy actions. In the US it is completely legal and protected by the law.
In India however, the legal status of lobbying is not clear. It is at times is mistaken for bribery. Bribery provides scope for favoritism but lobbying does not specifically ask for special treatment. Yet it is a means to influence legislative action. Lobbying by existing companies may result in barriers being put up by the government towards new entrants.
– Technical Barriers
The technical factors are industry-specific. They may pose themselves as barriers due to startup costs, patents, monopolies, etc. Patents are exclusive rights given to individuals or organizations for inventions in products or processes that are innovated and premiered in an industry. When the new entrants are not allowed to replicate similar products or processes it leaves very little scope for entry.
Startup costs act as barriers in industries that require huge capital to be invested in the initial stages. Some startup costs may also be classified as sunk costs. These are non-recoverable once invested eg. advertisement. The airline industry and petrochemical industry can be said to have a huge start-up cost barrier.
– Strategic Barrier
Strategic barriers are caused by existing players. One of the strategies is Predatory pricing. This may be done by pricing lower on purpose. This will make it difficult for new entrants to survive as it removes all possibility for them to break even. The cash-rich existing players may then look at the possibility of acquiring these new entrants.
Monopolies or Oligopolies may also use aggressive marketing to drive out new entrants. Zomato has continuously used competitive pricing to its advantage. Also, they then acquire new entrants(Ubereats) unable to survive.
– The Brand Loyalty Barrier
Brand loyalty from consumers is another barrier in itself. In some industries, existing players have had such a stronghold for a period of time. This has resulted in the product name itself being replaced by the brand name. Eg. Colgate. The cost to new entrants to acquire and keep new consumers is too high.
Markets generally with high entry barriers have few players and thus high-profit margins. Markets with low entry barriers, on the other hand, will have lots of players resulting in lower profit margins.
Advantages of Barriers to Entry
– Ease of regulation
Sensitive industries will involve the government premeditatedly imposing restrictions. This is generally seen in industries that involve natural resources or pharmaceuticals. Industries based in natural gas will face this as the economy is affected gravely by their prices.
The pharmaceutical industry too due to its sensitivity cordoned off most of the probable players. In the US due to the FDA regulations, 93% of the applications are not approved in the first cycle. As per Forbes it may cost between $1.3billion to $12billion and may take up to 10 years before it is approved for a prescription.
– Benefits to Consumers
The greater the barriers the more benefit the consumer gets as only the best and standard products would reach the consumers. These barriers also protect the industry from subpar products.
Although barriers may seem impossible to pass and then also compete with, however, most successful companies exist today because they were able to. Innovation in these aspects has the strongest ability to clear barriers. A disruptive pricing model too has been known to be effective. In the case of the telecom sector, the entry of Jio providing not reduced prices but free services revolutionized the sector.
However, a pricing strategy can be pursued only by cash-rich startups. It is also necessary for new entrants to clear barriers. Doing this will ensure that they are taken seriously. This seriousness will be reflected in the investor community with a more positive response towards the new entrants.
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