Confusopoly (aka Dilbert's confusopoly) is an economic, market term referring to the purposeful act by seller to confuse the buyer's set of informations in order to ease the buying. A combination of confusion and monopoly or oligopoly, Dilbert's author Scott Adams defines confusopoly as "a group of companies with similar products who intentionally confuse customers instead of competing on price". By examples, similar items such mobile phones are advertised with various price propositions according to different combinations of phoning time, text messaging capabilities, and other services, thus making these offers practically incomparable whilst in reality it could be easy to price on similar units of usage to allow informed comparisons. The term of confusopoly apply since confusion within the target buyers is purposely maintained, so choices are based on emotional factors (Larsen et al. 2008).
In reality the mobile phone market is a perfect example of Dilbert’s confusopoly. That is, various price propositions are on offer with different combinations of free minutes, texts, and other services, whilst in reality the same level of usage would result in roughly the same cost, leaving the user so confused that they simply choose the product with the name they like the most – a fact most notably recognised by the operator Orange with their animal-themed tariffs, such as Dolphin and Raccoon, and by LG who give their phone’s names such as Chocolate and Shine. Indeed, there has been a recent trend to take this a step further with co-branding of phones such as LG’s Prada, and Samsung’s Armani offerings.—Larsen & al.
The term have been adopted by economists. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, champions meaningful regulation for the financial industry, used the term of confusopoly for large financial institutions (Cordray 2014, 4'04"-4'26") :
There's actually an economic term for this; it's called "Confusopoly." If [the sellers] can confuse the consumer enough then the consumers won't necessary know what choice they're making and they can be talked into just about anything."—Richard Cordray, 2014/01/08
- Larsen, Jakob Eg; Kristensen, Kristian; Edwards, Reuben; Coulton, Paul (2008), Mobile Users: Comparing Trends in Denmark and Britain
- Cordray, Richard (Jan 8, 2014), Richard Cordray Extended Interview Pt. 2
- Adams, Scott. Encyclopedia. NationMaster. [Online] 4 Sept 2008. [Cited: 4 Sept 2008.] See www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Confusopoly