Calculating Market Share

Market share is the ratio of the competitor’s annual sales to the total annual sales of competitive products in the market being served by the competitors. It is usually measured by dividing the  competitor’s sales in dollars by the total sales volume in dollars for the industry. Dollars are used in the calculation because monetary value is usually easy to obtain.

As may be seen from the dimensions describing the horizontal axis of the economic experience curve. It would make more sense to measure the market share in units sold during the year. Dollar volume does not double when volume in units shipped doubles if price decreases with experience.

The dimensions of the experience curve are fully allocated unit expense in constant dollars and cumulative number of units produced. The reference to doubling sales is measured in units shipped. Because this kind of measure could be counted off on the horizontal axis of the curve, it is possible to relate the growth in shipments to fully allocated expense in constant dollards, a reasonable profit margin, and the resulting dollar volume of sales.

The difficulty in obtaining the information needed to calculate market shares in terms of units shipped is often resolved by trade association data, which reports in both units and dollars. Still the associations may not include every possible competitor among their membership. In almost all cases, however, the non-members are not big enough to be significant. Even without the non-member data, the trade association information is a good approximation to the actual figures.

Given that sufficient data is available, it is not entirely necessary to know a competitor’s exact market share. The information most meaningful to a manager is market share compared to that of the nearest competitor. This gives rise to the concept of a market share ratio.

A proposed ratio that has special meaning when used in conjunction with the economic experience curve. The ratio may be best understood as:

Market Share Ratio =   Your Market Share __________

Market Share of Your Biggest Competitor

The interesting result of defining the ratio this way is that only one competitor has a ratio greater than one. All the others have functional ratios, less than one. For instance, if you the largest market share your biggest competitor will have a smaller share than you, and your ratio will be a number greater than one. If your biggest competitor has a market share larger than yours, your ratio will be less than one.

Because only one competitor has market share ratio greater than unity, the dominant competitor is identified by a number greater than one. Also, the degree of the biggest competitor’s dominance is indicated by the size of the number.

Typically, when a new business concept arises that can be represented by an economic experience curve, several competitors enter the marketplace within a very short span of time. There is an initial market penetratiuon in which market shares are established. Managers have learned how difficult it is to change the market share of the competitors once they have been established. Market shares among suppliers who are competing forcefully tend to remain reasonably constant. Cummulative experience relative to other competitors tends to be aligned with the market share ratios.

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