Business Forum | Loneliness, a gift for dominant companies

There has been a lot of talk about competition since the return to normal life, or rather the absence of competition in certain sectors. Monopoly, oligopolistic competition and dominance are terms that often come up to describe industries such as GAFAM, oil, the food sector or commercial aviation and telephony in Canada.

We associate the consolidation of these sectors with disconcerting inflation and a deterioration in quality that we experience as an imposed constraint, for lack of less expensive alternatives. And even if many fantasize about a new entrant coming from elsewhere to shake up the cards in sectors such as the food sector, it is a safe bet that he would primarily seek to make his enormous investment profitable well before reestablishing the virtues of a competitive market with all-round price reductions.

For the consumer, aside from the inability to find an alternative solution for the good or service in question, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of a consolidated industry quietly imposing its dictates on its market. Even for experts, it is sometimes difficult to navigate or downright risky to make an opinion. In the most visible cases, an impression of collusion raises questions from economic players and the media. Our federal government also seems powerless, recently reacting to popular discontent by opting for an insignificant but beautifulsmoke show” by summoning the big names in food.

It is true that few companies will openly boast of their supremacy in a market. None will dare loudly celebrate the end of sacrosanct competition, the paradoxical conclusion of the capitalist system where an endless struggle ends in the domination of a few.

Solitude, generally associated with sorrow, is here synonymous with happiness and success. Deprived of conclusive data on the subject, the observer will however find a trait common to several companies in a quasi-monopoly situation: arrogance. That of GAFAM is extensively documented, as is that of the oil companies.

Let’s also think about the Montreal Canadiens. What a great example of monopoly, in public view. No competitors in its main market, no entrants in the foreseeable future. We have the right not to believe Geoff Molson’s support for the return of the Nordiques just as he has the right to keep his strategy confidential to maintain his monopoly and maximize his profits. These are there thanks to an advantageous cost price on beer, expensive derivative products and always full stands, with demand almost insensitive to the quality of the main product, i.e. sports performance on the ice rink.

It is true that the only two real stars of the organization, Martin St-Louis and Chantal Machabée, will have the same number of goals on the clock as Josh Anderson for a long time without playing a single match. No worries, fefans, well anchored in us, are there, whatever the cost. THE fefans, brilliantly portrayed by Réjean Tremblay, are the best living example of the phenomenon of inelastic demand described by economists. If we dispossess them with a message about unceded territories and first describing (before a modest retraction) their French-speaking Montreal as one community among many others, nothing shakes them. With a customer base as zealous as it is unwavering, the organization leads a fun cruise.

We are sometimes surprised with a brilliant tribute to Karl Tremblay and then fall back into his old clothes with the stitching of the Air Canada logo on the players’ jerseys. Money talksand the fefans will endure the addition of a symbol of mediocrity, or even contempt for the French language, to the Organization’s revenue generation strategy. How many local companies outside the aviation industry would have the presumption to so ostentatiously soap the eyes of their Quebec public with this logo on an already diminished product? Dominance and lack of competition seem to go well with arrogance.

So, how can we counter consolidation in our industries? Human creativity, knowledge, social progress and consequent technological advances are probably both their worst enemy and the general public’s best ally. Online music has shaken up an entire industry of giants. The Ozempic phenomenon will perhaps lead to a new look at our high-calorie diet. There will be others. And then, why not a real national women’s hockey league?


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