Demand elasticity

Demand elasticity

The concept of demand elasticity is crucial in the field of economics since it affects both consumer behaviour and corporate tactics. Fundamentally, demand elasticity assesses how responsive consumers are to price changes in terms of the amount required, providing important insights into market dynamics. This fundamental idea reveals the subtle interactions between price changes and consumer demand, assisting businesses in setting pricing strategies and assisting governments in creating efficient economic interventions. 

What is demand elasticity? 

The degree to which a product or service’s quantity demand responds to variations in price is referred to as demand elasticity. Simply put, it assesses how much consumers alter their purchase patterns in reaction to price changes. A change in price causes a proportionately higher change in the amount demanded when a product’s demand is elastic. In contrast, if demand is inelastic, the difference in the quantity required is proportionally smaller than the price change. 

Understanding demand elasticity 

Demand elasticity is a key economic idea that quantifies how responsive variations in a product’s or service’s quantity demanded are to price adjustments. It measures how sensitive consumer demand is to price changes. It is crucial to comprehend demand elasticity since it offers important insights into consumer behaviour and aids in decision-making for firms and politicians. 

A little change in price causes a correspondingly bigger difference in the quantity sought when demand is elastic. In other words, consumers react quickly to price changes. If the price goes up, demand declines significantly, and vice versa. Contrarily, when demand is inelastic, the difference in the quantity required is proportionally smaller than the price change. As a result, consumers are less sensitive to price changes, and demand is mostly unaffected even when prices rise.  

Demand elasticity is influenced by several variables, including the accessibility of substitutes, the necessity of the product, the time horizon, and the percentage of the consumer’s income spent on it. Due to consumers’ ease in switching to alternatives in the event of price changes, goods with near replacements typically have more elastic demand. Consumers frequently have inelastic demand for essential items because they require them regardless of price changes. 

Businesses can develop effective pricing strategies with a solid understanding of demand elasticity. Companies must exercise caution when raising pricing for products with elastic demand to retain a sizable share of their client base. Demand elasticity is another tool policymakers use to evaluate the effects of different economic policies on consumer behaviour and market effectiveness. For instance, knowing how elastic the demand for a commodity is before imposing a tax can assist in determining how much money the tax will bring in and how it would alter spending habits. 

Types of demand elasticity 

There are five kinds of demand elasticity depending on the degree of elasticity of quantity demanded to price changes: 

  • Perfectly elastic demand 

Perfectly elastic demand happens when a minor alteration in the quantity demanded changes infinitely with price changes. The demand curve is horizontal. The numeric value for perfectly elastic demand is Ep = ∞. 

  • Perfectly inelastic demand 

In this case, price changes do not directly impact the quantity demanded. Its demand curve is vertical. The numeric value for perfectly elastic demand is Ep = 0. 

  • Relatively elastic demand 

Demand is relatively elastic when the percentage change in quantity demanded is greater than in price. The numeric value for perfectly elastic demand is Ep > 1. 

  • Relatively inelastic demand 

Here, the percentage change in quantity demanded is less than the percentage change in price. The numeric value for perfectly elastic demand is Ep < 1. 

  • Unitary elastic demand 

Unitary elastic demand occurs when the percentage of quantity demanded is equal to the difference in price. The numeric value for perfectly elastic demand is Ep = 1. 

Each type of demand elasticity reflects how consumers respond to price changes, which is crucial for businesses in setting prices and making strategic decisions. 

The formula of demand elasticity 

The demand elasticity formula, often known as price elasticity of demand, assesses the adaptability of quantity demanded to price fluctuations. It is calculated as follows: 

                                                (% change in quantity demanded)  

Demand price elasticity =    ————————————————— 

                                                        (% Change in price) 

                                                                                       (ΔQ / Q)  

In other words, price elasticity of demand =   ——————— 

                                                                                        (ΔP / P) 



ΔQ = change in quantity demanded 

Q = quantity demanded 

ΔP = change in price 

P = price 

The formula’s output will provide the elasticity of demand. If the value is > than one, the market is termed elastic. If the value is < less than one, demand is inelastic. When the value is = one, demand is unitary elastic. Understanding demand elasticity allows companies to make better pricing decisions and correctly forecast consumer behaviour. 


The smartphone market is a real-world example of demand elasticity. When a popular smartphone model is released, initial demand may be inelastic, as early adopters are ready to pay a premium for the most up-to-date technology. However, when newer models are launched, the order for the previous model grows more elastic. 

As consumers grow increasingly price-sensitive, the business may need to cut prices or give discounts to sustain sales. Furthermore, the desire for smartphones across socioeconomic levels demonstrates the income elasticity of demand. Luxury smartphones might have a more inelastic demand, while budget-conscious buyers may have a more elastic desire for inexpensive versions.     

Frequently Asked Questions

The price elasticity of demand measures how sensitive the amount desired of a product or service is to price fluctuations. It can be determined by dividing the percentage change in supply by the percentage change in price. If the elasticity of demand is greater than one, a little change in price results in a proportionately bigger difference in the quantity desired. If the elasticity is less than one, demand is inelastic, which means that price changes have a relatively minor influence on the market.  

When the price elasticity demand for a product is greater than 1, it is said to be elastic. Elasticity is influenced by factors such as the supply of substitutes, the product’s share of the customer’s budget, and the duration of the period evaluated. Goods with near substitutes, extensive allocation of budgets, and longer adjustment periods have greater elastic demand, which means the amount required fluctuates dramatically in reaction to price swings. 

Price elasticity of demand is important because it explains how price changes impact customer demand for a good or service. With high elasticity, a price adjustment can cause a considerable movement in direction, driving pricing strategies and revenue estimates. It also assists in establishing taxes and subsidies, forecasting market responses to economic developments, and identifying important items with inelastic demand, which may necessitate alternative regulatory measures. 

The five kinds of demand elasticity are as follows: 

  • Perfectly elastic demand 
  • Perfectly inelastic demand 
  • Relatively elastic demand 
  • Relatively inelastic demand 
  • Unitary elastic demand 

The four types of elasticity are: 

  • Demand elasticity 
  • Income elasticity 
  • Cross elasticity 
  • Price elasticity 

Related Terms

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