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Lesson Contents
Unit 1: Demand Theory
  • The Theory
  • Making Decisions
  • Utility
  • On To Demand
  • Unit 1 Summary
  • Unit 2: Total Utility
  • A Measure Of Satisfaction
  • Total Utility Schedule
  • Utility Maximization
  • Unit 2 Summary
  • Unit 3: Marginal Utility
  • Incremental Satisfaction
  • Measuring Marginal Utility
  • Diminishing Marginal Utility
  • Getting Satisfied
  • Diamond-Water Paradox
  • Unit 3 Summary
  • Unit 4: The Curves
  • Total Utility
  • Marginal Utility
  • Both Curves
  • Unit 4 Summary
  • Unit 5: Taking Stock
  • Two Laws
  • Two Considerations
  • Unit 5 Summary
  • Course Home
    Consumer Demand

    This lesson discusses the basics of consumer demand theory, especially the notion of utility. Utility is the fancy-schmancy economic term that means satisfying wants and needs. The purpose of this lesson is to set the stage for a behind-the-scenes look at the demand-side of the market. Because the prices buyers are willing to pay for the goods depend on the utility, an understanding of demand requires an understanding of utility.

    • The first unit of this lesson, Demand Theory, introduces the concept of utility and previews the relation between utility, consumer decision making, and demand.
    • In the second unit, Total Utility, we take a look at the first of two key technical notions of utility are used to examine the relation between utility and demand.
    • The third unit, Marginal Utility, presents and discusses the second of the two technical notions of utility, and the most important notion underlying demand.
    • The fourth unit, The Curves, illustrates the total utility and marginal utility concepts with handy graphs.
    • The fifth unit, Taking Stock, then wraps up this lesson with an extended preview of the relation between utility and demand.

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    KINKED-DEMAND CURVE ANALYSIS

    An analysis using the kinked-demand curve to explain rigid prices often found with oligopoly. The kinked-demand curve contains two distinct segments--one for higher prices that is more elastic and one for lower prices that is less elastic. Key to this analysis is that the corresponding marginal revenue curve contains three segments--one associated with the more elastic segment, one associated with the less elastic segment, and one associated with the kink. A profit-maximizing firm can then equate marginal cost to a wide range of marginal revenue values along the vertical segment of the marginal revenue curve. This suggests that marginal cost must change significantly before an oligopolistic firm is inclined to change price.

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    Today, you are likely to spend a great deal of time watching the shopping channel looking to buy either a birthday greeting card for your aunt or a wall poster commemorating the moon landing. Be on the lookout for high interest rates.
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    Potato chips were invented in 1853 by a irritated chef repeatedly seeking to appease the hard to please Cornelius Vanderbilt who demanded french fried potatoes that were thinner and crisper than normal.
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