Factors Affecting Demand

Read this to learn about how factors that affect demand, such as income and change in tastes, are graphed as shifts of the demand curve. Make sure to answer the "Try It" questions.

Other Factors That Shift Demand Curves

Changes in the Prices of Related Goods

The demand for a product can also be affected by changes in the prices of related goods such as substitutes or complements. A substitute is a good or service that can be used in place of another good or service. As electronic books become more available, you would expect to see a decrease in demand for traditional printed books. A lower price for a substitute decreases demand for the other product. For example, in recent years as the price of tablet computers has fallen, the quantity demanded has increased (because of the law of demand). Since people are purchasing tablets, there has been a decrease in demand for laptops, which can be shown graphically as a leftward shift in the demand curve for laptops. A higher price for a substitute good has the reverse effect.

Figure 4. Office Supplies.  A drop in the price of pens and pencils may lead to higher demand for complement office supplies.

Other goods are complements for each other, meaning that the goods are often used together, because consumption of one good tends to enhance consumption of the other. Examples include breakfast cereal and milk; notebooks and pens or pencils, golf balls and golf clubs; gasoline and sport utility vehicles; and the five-way combination of bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and bread. If the price of golf clubs rises, since the quantity of golf clubs demanded falls (because of the law of demand), demand for a complement good like golf balls decreases, too. Similarly, a higher price for skis would shift the demand curve for a complement good like ski resort trips to the left, while a lower price for a complement has the reverse effect.