Tuesday, January 11, 2022
We study the effects of mergers in the consumer packaged goods industry, a sector that comprises approximately one-tenth of GDP in the United States. We match data on all recorded mergers between 2006 and 2017 with retail scanner data. In comparison to prior work, which focuses on case studies of large mergers, our approach allows us to estimate the effect of a typical merger. Most mergers we study are highly asymmetric (a large firm acquires a much smaller firm) and rarely challenged. By studying these mergers, we provide new evidence on the effects of mergers on prices, quantities, product availability, and exit. On average, mergers lead to a short-run price effect at the target of 1% and declines in total revenue of 7%. These average effects hide substantial heterogeneity across different groups of mergers. Our results highlight the importance of effects not captured in the canonical model, such as effects on consumer surplus through changes in product availability, and through inefficient firms' capital being repurposed by more productive acquirors.