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Category killer is a term used in marketing and strategic management to describe a product, service, brand, or company that has such a distinct sustainable competitive advantage that competing firms find it almost impossible to operate profitably in that industry (or in the same local area). The existence of a category killer eliminates almost all market entities, whether real or virtual. Many existing firms leave the industry, thereby increasing the industry's concentration ratio.
The definition most often associated with the term is a big-box retail chain (such as Home Depot, Best Buy or Toys "R" Us) that is focused on one or few categories of merchandise and offers a wide selection of merchandise in these categories at relatively low prices. The emergence of such stores has taken a toll on specialised local stores in the same market (such as toys), but also affected many larger department stores.
An example of a category killer business is eBay. The online auction site has a near-monopoly because buyers and sellers naturally gravitate to the largest, most liquid market. As a result, the site has almost no competition and has forced similar auction sites (like those run by Yahoo!) into a very small portion of the market. Jupiter Communications has estimated that eBay earned 90% of all revenues in the consumer-to-consumer auction market in the year 2000.
See also