Agent-based model of the market penetration of a new product

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation presents an agent-based model that is used to investigate the market penetration of a new product within a competitive market. The market consists of consumers that belong to social network that serves as a substrate over which consumers exchange positive and negative word-of-mouth communication about the products that they use. Market dynamics are influenced by factors such as product quality; the level of satisfaction that consumers derive from using the products in the market; switching constraints that make it difficult for consumers to switch between products; the word-of-mouth that consumers exchange and the structure of the social network that consumers belong to. Various scenarios are simulated in order to investigate the effect of these factors on the market penetration of a new product. The simulation results suggest that: ■ A new product reaches fewer new consumers and acquires a lower market share when consumers switch less frequently between products. ■ A new product reaches more new consumers and acquires a higher market share when it is of a better quality to that of the existing products because more positive word-of-mouth is disseminated about it. ■ When there are products that have switching constraints in the market, launching a new product with switching constraints results in a higher market share compared to when it is launched without switching constraints. However, it reaches fewer new consumers because switching constraints result in negative word-of-mouth being disseminated about it which deters other consumers from using it. Some factors such as the fussiness of consumers; the shape and size of consumers' social networks; the type of messages that consumers transmit and with whom and how often they communicate about a product, may be beyond the control of marketing managers. However, these factors can potentially be influenced through a marketing strategy that encourages consumers to exchange positive word-of-mouth both with consumers that are familiar with a product and those who are not.

Includes bibliographical references.