Agent-based simulation of lock-in dynamics in a duopoly

Michael Garlick, Maria Chli

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished Conference Paperpeer-review


Lock-in is observed in real world markets of experience goods; experience goods are goods whose characteristics are difficult to determine in advance, but ascertained upon consumption. We create an agent-based simulation of consumers choosing between two experience goods available in a virtual market. We model consumers in a grid representing the spatial network of the consumers. Utilising simple assumptions, including identical distributions of product experience and consumers having a degree of follower tendency, we explore the dynamics of the model through simulations. We conduct simulations to create a lock-in before testing several hypotheses upon how to break an existing lock-in; these include the effect of advertising and free give-away. Our experiments show that the key to successfully breaking a lock-in required the creation of regions in a consumer population. Regions arise due to the degree of local conformity between agents within the regions, which spread throughout the population when a mildly superior competitor was available. These regions may be likened to a niche in a market, which gains in popularity to transition into the mainstream.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event9th International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: 10 May 201014 May 2010


Conference9th International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Abbreviated titleAAMAS 2010
CityToronto, ON

Bibliographical note



  • simulation and modelling
  • model development
  • modelling methodologies
  • economics
  • sociology
  • experimentation
  • human factors
  • agent-based simulation
  • consumer behaviour
  • lock-in


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