The Art of Confusopoly

Ever since I heard about the word ‘confusopoly’ been confused about its meaning and its relation to business. A little help from my friend Google helped me understand better. Though most of us might not be aware of the meaning all of us have experienced confusopoly in our purchases. Any guesses on it meaning?

Confusopoly word is a combination of confusion and monopoly (domination of an industry by a single player) or oligopoly (dominated by few sellers).This word was coined by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. He defines confusopoly as “a group of companies with similar products who intentionally confuse customers instead of competing on price”

This is witnessed in industries such as mobile services, insurance, banking, and financial services. For example in the mobile services each company offers different packages in terms of tariff while roaming, SMS services, validity etc thus making it very difficult for the customers to make a decision basis the best offer. Here the companies create confusion in the minds of the customer. Same is the case with banking services. E.g. in the case of home loan each bank may offer different option e.g. no processing fee, initial period fixed rate of interest, loan sanction within specified days, longer tenure etc. Thus a customer finds it very difficult to decide among different banks for the home loan

While the numbers of choices for the customers has increased in each of the categories either products or services has increased. The decision is even more difficult for the customer due to confusopoly. The rising confusopoly has given rise yet another industry, and platform which provides comparisons among categories. Many companies have started websites which compare the prices and help in making a more informed decision. This is witnessed especially in categories as restaurant bookings, hotel bookings etc.

Even among retail store there are different offers on the same products. E.g. on soft drinks one retailer has an offer of Buy 2 Get 1 Free whereas other retailer runs an offer of Buy 1 bottle of Soft drink get onion at Re 1/ Kg on 1 Kg. Now this offers is comparatively easy to calculate the benefit as compared to the mobile services. Yet a customer needs to do some mental calculation before deciding on the offer.

Also lots of retailers have offers on bill value. E.g. shop for Rs 199/- in fruits and vegetables section and get Mangoes at Rs 59/ kg, shop for Rs 999/- and get 1 Kg sugar free, shop for Rs 3000/- and get a dinner set worth Rs 600/- at Rs 50/- only, shop for Rs 10000/- and get gift vouchers worth Rs 1000/-So any guesses which is the best offer?

What drives a company to do this? In view of rising competition and the shrinking profits for most of them, companies no longer want to fight it on the pricing platform. Hence the companies are getting more creative to target customers and reduce their incentives to shop with competition.

Ultimately it is the consumer who decides and makes a choice in the ocean of confusopoly

Any experiences on the art of confusopoly? Please share your views on the same.

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