South-Western College Publishing - Economics  
This flashlight uses…any battery you want!
Subject Energizer's Quick Switch flashlight works with any kind of battery.
Topic Supply and demand; Monopolistic Competition
Key Words

flashlight, Energizer, Rayovac, Quick Switch, pricing

News Story

Energizer has come up with a new addition to the flashlight market: a flashlight that will work with any of three different sizes of batteries.

The Quick Switch will, at the flick of a switch to lock them into place, use two of either C, D, or AA size batteries. Priced at $9.99 to $12.99, this flashlight is designed to answer that common question when you need a flashlight: "Do I have the right batteries for it?"

Analysts quickly seized on the novelty and intuitiveness of the product. Corporate rival Rayovac noted that this was not much different than using a battery adapter, which converts a smaller battery to one size larger. Energizer responded that the new flashlight eliminates the need for such a converter. Fumbling around in the dark, the last thing consumers want to look for (after batteries are found) is the converter to make them work.

(Updated December, 2004)


Energizer's rival in the production of batteries, Rayovac, did not seem impressed with the new innovation in the Quick Switch. Why do you think this is? What would you expect to happen to the market price and quantity of battery converters it sells? Illustrate your answer with a graph of supply and demand.

2. If this market is indeed monopolistically competitive, what would you expect to happen in the long run to any economic profit received by Energizer from this innovation? Why?
3. What would the introduction of this product do to the elasticity of demand for flashlights? Why?
Source Jim Suhr. "News flash: light adapts to different batteries." The Associated Press, 16 September 2004.

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