4. Netflix and Hulu, Coke and Pepsi… Why Is There So Much Market Competition?

Have you ever noticed how many choices we have when it comes to the products we can buy? Pepsi or Coke? McDonalds or Burger King? When companies fight for our business, consumers like you and me win by having more options available to us.

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Key Terms 

  • Monopoly: A business that does not have any competition
  • Free Market: An economic system where people are allowed to freely cooperate and exchange goods without excessive regulation 

 

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hey Connor, how are you doing?

Connor: Hey, Brittany. I’m well, how are you?

Brittany: Pretty good, I just got back from the store actually, and I was kind of blown away. Have you ever noticed how many options we have when we go grocery shopping?

Connor: Oh yeah, just I think the other day yesterday, actually I went to the grocery store to get some chips and there were like 13 kinds of chips. And then my wife said, she sent me a text. She said, okay, I want you to get diced tomatoes that have, you know, not the low salt kind, not the no salt kind, no seasoning. And I literally. I stood in the tomato aisle with the phone text pulled up. I I’m not joking at all. And I was looking through all the tomatoes, rereading her text. Wait, that’s just low salt. No, she said not that wait, that one’s slightly seasoned a slightly season. No, not that one. There’s literally like dozens of dice tomatoes with all these different options. I kid you not. I came home and she said, that’s not the one I wanted. Because there’s so many options. It almost became confusing. So this, this stands out to me that we have so many choices, even between like the same products. There’s like, you know, Pepsi or Coke, or, you know, you can get lucky charms or you can get the knockoff version, you know, Marshmallow Mateys. It just seems like there’s so many choices in what we can get.

Brittany: There is. And not just at the store either. I mean, think about it, Netflix, Hulu, there’s all these things. And it’s almost like they come in pairs and sometimes there’s multiple options, but I got to wondering why do we have all these options? And I’ve heard some people actually criticize saying we don’t need all these options. You know, if you go to buy shampoo, just go to buy one thing that says shampoo, you don’t need, you don’t need to see all the different options. Right! But I was thinking about that and what a boring world that would be. Can you imagine going to the store and there’s only one of everything.

Connor: Well, because let’s, let’s use shampoo as an example, Brittany, you have, you know, long, nice hair. I have short hair, you know, I probably don’t care so much about like conditioning and having it be shiny, whereas you, you’ve got a lot more hair on display. Maybe you want a certain kind of, you know, shininess or whatever, or there might people who have dandruff, right? So they have, they wanna a shampoo that helps them. It seems to me that we’re all so different in just like tiny little ways where even for something as silly as shampoo, you might benefit from a kind that’s a little bit different than what I would do. And so even shampoo being a little silly, everyone has so many kind of different needs for shampoo that it kind of makes sense that there would be a ton of different options.

Brittany: It does. It’s also kind of the same thing with, with chips that you mentioned before, you know, if I’m going to eat dip with chips and who doesn’t like dip with chips, I’m gonna get maybe ruffles because they have those ridges. Right. And I can get in, but if I’m just gonna eat a sandwich, maybe I want lays. Right. The thing is that we all have different needs and we all have different things that we like. So it’s really great that this, this happens. But a lot of times, and I was listening to a really interesting podcast called business wars the other day. A lot of times these companies have to fight for our, you know, for our business. They want us to pick them. And so you have a lot of this competition. And a lot of times we think of competition as almost being contentious or, or negative a bad thing. But when we have market competition, it kind of seems like it’s a good thing for us. What do you think?

Connor: So market competition. So let’s say I write these Tuttle Twins books and in some sense and I’ll be very honest here. No one else really does this. And so for a long time, I’m like, man, we’re kind of the only ones teaching kids, the ideas of a free society. And that’s great. I kind of have a monopoly, right! Which means like we’ve all played the game, play the game. Yeah! We’ve all played the game monopoly. But monopoly is like, I’m the only one doing it. That’s the word? The, part of the word mono, which means one. Whereas like a duopoly would be, you know, two people. And so I’m like, Hey, this is cool. No one else is doing this. So anyone who wants, you know, to help their kids learn about Liberty, they’re gonna get the, Tuttle Twins Books.

But then on the other hand, I’m like, you know, what if I had competition, number one, it’d be kind of cool because way more people would be learning about this stuff, cuz my competitor might reach people that I’m not or whatever, but also the competitor he might do or she might do things in such a different way where I’m kinda like, huh, I can learn a little bit from the, how they’re doing it. Just like maybe they were watching me, you know, do tele trends and that gave them an idea. But then they do it a little bit differently. I’m like, huh, I wanna change it to be like them. And then you go back and forth and back and forth.

Brittany: And so it’s almost like it’s making the other person better by having the competition. Isn’t it.

Connor: Here’s how I like to think of things, Brittany. So I really like the free market and you know, I could call myself hold let’s free market

Brittany: Explain that a, explain that a little bit.

Connor: Alright, alright. So the market is like the grocery store, right? You just mentioned here’s all these choices, all these options. Well, if it’s a free market, that means there’s probably multiple types of shampoos and there’s multiple types of potato chips because all those companies have the freedom. That’s the part of the free market. They have the freedom to make what they want to buy it, to sell it to trade. Whereas the market that is not free means well, you know, either it’s a full on band, like we’re gonna have one kind of, you know, shampoo for everyone. Although that’s a little bit obviously on the extreme more often, what it is is, oh, your shampoo is being imported from another country. Well, we wanna protect the American shampoo companies. And so we’re gonna add this tax called a tariff. And we’re gonna say, if your shampoo is from another country, we’re gonna charge you an extra 20% to punish you and make it harder for you to do business and compete fairly or freely against American companies. So that is a market that is not a free market because the government is kind of putting their thumb on a scale. If you imagine a scale with like one shampoo company on one side and one shampoo company on the other side, and if you put your thumb down on one side, obviously the skills, the scale kind of tilts. And that’s, so..

Brittany: They’re almost picking the winners and the

Connor: Losers they’re picking the winners and the losers. So that is not a free market. Whereas, you know, you go to your grocery store and buy and large, all these amazing things. That’s kind of the free market at work. And, and you know, I might call myself like a capitalist. That’s another word, right?

Brittany: That word I Always hear used very negatively. People don’t love capitalists.

 

Connor: Right? But it’s like a business person, right. Or someone who likes the free market. But here’s what I wanted to share Brittany, is that when I think about the free market, I think about service because at the end of the day, like let’s say I’m the one that has dandruff. I’ve got a problem. I don’t like having all these little flakes on my, you know, shoulders. I think that looks embarrassing. I wanna solve this problem. I don’t know how to do it. I’m not gonna go in my kitchen and like make shampoo on my own with like this magic potion and the witches brew and the cauldron.

Brittany: No Tuttle Twin shampoo coming out anytime soon then?

Connor: There’s not gonna be any Tuttle Twin shampoo. So it would be a great service to me. If for just a few dollars, I could go to the store and buy a shampoo that was this special dandruff version that would help me get rid of those like flakes on my hair that, that serves me. I’m being benefited from it right now. As we’re recording this, Brittany, I have someone in my yard at home who is fixing my sprinklers. They’re busted. And I have no idea how to do that. I’m not good at that kind of stuff. And so I’m paying this guy obviously, but he’s serving me because I’m getting helped by him. So that’s what, when I think about competition. Yeah. I had multiple people to choose from for sprinkler guys. And so I found the one with the lowest prize, with the best reviews. He communicated very well with me. And so I had multiple choices, which was great, but ultimately they were all trying to compete for who best could serve me. And I think that’s really cool because I feel like a king.

Brittany: I feel like was gonna say, that’s like royalty. That’s the coolest thing ever.

Connor: Yeah. Yeah. Except I’m not paying with gold. Although that might be a topic for another day.

Brittany: Maybe someday you bring up an interesting point though. You said, you look at things like who’s the best cost and who can, you know, who has the most, maybe the best resume or who can help you the most, but it’s not always about cost. Right? We each have different things we look for. So the other day I had to call to get new internet service, which if you, there’s one thing to dread about being an adult, getting internet service as one of the top things. So I was talking to different people and, and comparing, and the people who offered the lowest price were also the hardest to work with. Hmm. So I made a decision that was very personal. I didn’t wanna go for the people who had the best price, because I knew that if something went wrong, I was going to have to go through their process.

And it was going to be very hard for me to get to talk to somebody. And I didn’t wanna deal with that. So I made the decision that I was actually going to pay 10 to $20 more every month. So I could have internet in my house to work with a company that I think has better service.

Connor: Hmm.

Brittany: So kind of like we talked about how maybe you wanna get the shampoo that has dander protection. Well, we each have different things we look for in products and that’s what makes the free market so great. Is it caters to every single different person? I’m not going to get the same shampoo you’re gonna get, you know, because maybe cost isn’t. Maybe I wanna spend the most money on shampoo. Maybe I wanna, you know, get the best brand. So we each have these different things we look for. And so it’s great to have all these options because then everybody wins.

Connor:

I like that. I think that’s a great idea. And it’s almost like I think, you know, if I am kind of the pretty girl at the dance and all the guys are trying to, they want to dance with me. Right. They’re all gonna try and like stand out somehow or look cooler than others. Or maybe try and impress me with their dancing abilities. Yeah. It’s competition. So it’s kind of like, everyone is like, they’re fighting over you, but it’s in a good way. They really want you to pick them. And I think the world is a better place. When we have choices. I went to a restaurant earlier today and I look at the menu and there’s all the, like if I had to go to a restaurant and they’re like, always serve as like thanks. You know, I’m going somewhere else.

Right. But when I go to this restaurant, especially with my family, my kids are kind of picky eaters. My wife likes to eat a little more healthy than I do. She might get a salad where I’m gonna get like a big, you know, thick-gravy-slab, punk of meat with mashed potatoes. Right. And so I love the restaurant because there’s choices and there’s the kids’ menu. There’s some desserts that I can get at the end. And there’s all these different things that I can get. I feel when I leave that restaurant, I feel very satisfied because that restaurant was trying to serve me. And you know what? I am not very good at cooking. So I might be more willing to just pay them, to serve me and make me a nice meal.

Brittany: I mean, can you imagine a world where we didn’t have choice? Like, let’s think about shoes, for example, what if only one person was allowed to make shoes? Now I don’t know about you Connor, but I love shoes. And I like being the only person that has my kind of shoes. I like standing out when I leave my house. What if the second I walked out my door, I realized every other person had the same shoes because we only had one company to choose from. What would that world look like?

Connor: I, think you would be sadder in that world than I would Brittany I think I’d be okay in that world, but I know that would be hard for you.

Brittany: It would be very hard for me.

Connor: You know, I kind of like the whole thing where like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they just have one outfit.

Brittany: The black turtleneck every day. Right.

Connor: Just keep it easy. I don’t have to think about my wardrobe anymore, but I get that I’m unique in that regard. So no, but you’re right. Like all of us have those things that we really specifically, like, I have the specific kind of pen that I always love using when I’m reading my books, I’ve used other pens, but I really like this pen. If the government came to that company and said, we’ve got too many pens, we don’t need so many pens. We’re gonna just, you know, ban you and have these pens. I would just think that’s ridiculous and crazy. And I want the pen that I want, why can’t I have that pen? And so I love that I can go to the pen store years ago and try out like 13 different kinds and find that one that just fits right with my fingers and that I like how much ink it puts out.

Whereas you might go to the same store or the same exercise and hate the pen that I picked for.

Brittany: ‘I Would’ve gotten a pencil. Yeah.

Connor: You could’ve got a pencil right. Or mechanical pencil or whatever. You might do calligraphy with a feather who knows. But I just like living in a world where choice, where you can pick what you want. I can pick what I want. I think it makes us all happier and you know, who else it makes happier all the companies that we buy stuff from because you know, they profit when they can sell us stuff and they get better at what they’re doing when they have competition, which is what we were just talking about because they’re like, oh, they’re, they’re selling way more than we are. We need to change something to improve. Or maybe we need to be better at responding to our customer emails so that they don’t hate us as much, or it can kind of pressure them to do better. And when they do better, they serve us better and serve us more. So I just think, the world is a better place because the competition and it helps improve all of our lives.

Brittany: I think you’re right. Connor. And I think it’s also important to remember that, you know, we’re all different. I’m not you, you’re not me. We’re all gonna have different tastes and things. And it’s great to live in a world where we can have all those needs met no matter how different we are.

Connor: So imagine dear listener, what your type of world would look like, where there was no competition, whatever was, you know, favorite for you or what you most like and how awful it would be without that thing, whether that’s just, you know, the government coming and shutting down the competition, or even if just, we didn’t really have a strong, free market where we would have all these different products and services. That’s kind of a sad world to think about like last night, my wife and I got ice cream and she picked the kind that she wanted, that I didn’t really like And I picked the kind that I liked. It was this salty caramel one. And my wife’s like, Ugh, she’s like, Ugh, salty car. Right. But like, we, we were both happy. It’s not that we had the one kind that we had to settle on and okay.

We both kind of like this one. So since we can only get one kind, no, we each got our own kind. We were both happy. I just, I get very excited about seeing how the free market can come up with all these unique, different things. I mean, the Tuttle Twins, it was like, wait a minute. There’s, you know, no books to help teach my kids about these things. The only books out there for kids are talking about, well, like why Hillary Clinton is so great or, you know, it right. Like these horrible ideas and things or just nothing at all. And so here comes the free market, which prompted me to start writing these books. And now there’s, you know, hundreds of thousands of kids out there who love the books and are reading all the books. And if I wasn’t free to do that, and if I didn’t have, you know, some competition opportunity to say, oh, there’s bad books out there. We need to compete and have good books out there. Then maybe I never would’ve done that. And so the, the free market and competition drives us to always be serving people better, to be doing better. And I just think that leads to better and happier outcomes for all of us.

Brittany: I think you’re right. And I think that brings us to our time today, but we’re gonna be back next week. So we’ll see you all, then

Connor: See you later, Brittany,

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