Tom and Donna are doing one last Treat Yo Self journey before Donna’s wedding. As the Butler of Honor, Tom takes Donna to eat at the hottest sushi restaurant in LA. All of the fish served has been previously owned by celebrities as a way to differentiate it from standard sushi.
Donna and Tom are curious about what the newest fad is in Pawnee. Annabel Porter tells Ron, Donna, and Tom about milk with a flourish that makes it worth $60 a gallon instead of $3 a gallon. Ron isn’t fooled, he realizes it’s just milk.
Gryzzl wants to bring in a celebrity to help distinguish the company so that they can win the bid. Tom and Donna list other instances where celebrity ownership or endorsement have helped companies. Celebrity endorsements may serve as a signalling device for companies.
It’s time for some shop talk as Leslie and Ben sit down with Ben’s campaign manager to discuss their strategy going forward in Ben’s election. Leslie takes a brief moment to note that shop talk is one of her favorite types of talk and then goes on to list the other types. This is a cute (and quick) introduction to the concept of product differentiation, where companies sell similar products with different attributes. Product differentiation can allow a company to charge higher prices for their products if people perceive value in the differentiation.
In a tight battle for City Council, Leslie approaches the President of the Pawnee Senior Citizens with a plan to place wheelchair ramps on every city building to make it easier for elderly citizens to get around. Bobby Newport announces a very similar plan, but instead of ramps, they propose adding chair lifts to each building. Both are pandering to the elderly vote with essentially the same program.
Thanks to an anonymous submitter for the clip!
Ben and Tom aren’t happy with the high tent prices and add-ons at one tent rental shop, so they try to go to a competitor only to find that all of the tent rental places have the same owner who is happy to exploit his market power. While the owner tries to differentiate their product through branding, they have essentially monopolized central Indiana’s tent rental industry.
Ron’s chair becomes popular after being featured in Bloosh, and Annabelle wants to talk about licensing his designs and scaling up production. Instead of having each handmade by Ron Swanson, they can be mass-produced by foreign labor.
Tom gets an offer that someone is interested in buying his business. After some though, Tom chooses not to sell his clothing rental business and then finds out that the potential buyer will now try to drive him out of business by setting up across the street. Monopolistic competition allows for easy entry and exit into a market that is profitable and results in a reduction in long term profits. This is also a good example of the Hotelling Model where similar firms setup near each other to split the market.
See more: barriers to entry, demand shifts, duopoly, free lunch, hotelling model, imperfect competition, invisible hand, marketing, mergers, monopolistic competition, NSTAFL, product differentiation, supply shifts, zero profit
Tom fancies himself an entrepreneur and lists off a variety of different business ideas he has. Throughout the series, Tom comes up with different business ideas, but this is just a subset of his ideas that he names during the premier of his alcoholic beverage, Snake Juice. Most of his ideas though are really just variances of other products so Tom is focusing on differentiating the businesses to serve niche markets.
The Pawnee Video Dome is failing and going out of business. Leslie is trying to find tax breaks to keep him afloat, but Ron says the market is signaling that the company is not providing enough value to consumers and deserves to fail. If companies provide a social good (like intellectual conversations) then governments may step in and subsidize the production of the service.