Frontier (Europe) hosted an evening event “Alternative medicine: can demand side remedies cure ineffective competition?” on Wednesday 8th February.
In most markets, consumers drive competition by shopping around, talking about products and experiences and ultimately giving their business to the firms with the best products and prices. This doesn’t happen in all markets, and in recent years competition authorities and sector regulators have focused on “demand-side remedies”, such as improving disclosure of key information or making it easier to switch providers. These remedies seek to increase customer engagement and so force firms to compete more vigorously. The recent high-profile investigations by the UK Competition and Markets Authority into retail banking and energy have both resulted in a renewed focus on demand-side remedies in those markets.
The evening event was an opportunity to discuss the remedies that have been implemented to date, what works, and what doesn’t. Crucially given the growing pipeline of demand-side remedies in development across several different sectors, it was an opportunity to consider how the design and use of demand side remedies may be improved in future.
Three speakers were at the event to give their views on these issues:
- Professor Amelia Fletcher of the Centre for Competition Policy presented some the findings from her recent review on “The role of demand-side remedies in driving effective competition”.
- James Edgar from Which? provided his views on how consumer power can be harnessed to improve markets.
- Phil Graves, a leading customer behaviour expert and Frontier Associate, compared and contrasted attempts by regulators to engage customers with how businesses try to influence demand.
Frontier Economics regularly advises clients on these and other regulatory and competition issues.
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