Buridan’s Ass and Points of Disparity Concept

I am not very sure about the percentage of readers who know about the Buridan’s Ass concept. Let me assume that the ratio of knowing it is 50-50. Now since 50% know about it already, I should not write an article about the Buridan’s Ass and its implications but, 50% are still unaware about what it is and so I should go about writing on it. The question is what should I do?

Well let the Buridan’s Ass explain it for you. The theory satirizes French philosopher Jean Buridan’s philosophy of moral determinism. Though moral determinism is not what we will be talking about here, but rationalism and the market will definitely be an interesting aspect of it.

A Buridan’s Ass is one who is equally hungry and thirsty and has a stack of hay and a pill of water kept on his either sides at equal distances between which he has to choose just one. Now, ideally he should make a choice and move but then what happens in reality is that he gets confused and dies.

Doesn’t appeal to our rational minds, right? Ok! So let us suppose you love “rajma” and “kadhi” equally and you have both of them in front of you. What would you eat; remember that you like both of them equally. You certainly do not make a choice because you cannot decide which one to take.

This was the funnier part of it, now applying it to the market scenario; a Buridan’s Ass is the main reason why companies project their points of disparity most in an advertisement and why two exactly similar products do not exist.

We usually talk about the first mover’s advantage, but have we ever thought of the Second Mover’s Honeymoon and most importantly the Third Mover’s disaster! The reason for the disaster is that the consumer is already so confused between the first two options that a similar third fails to catch the eye. To exemplify, Tide was launched primarily as a detergent for white clothes because Surf Excel and Ariel were already reigning in the coloured clothing segments.

To avert the disaster, it is thus advisable not to launch till you have something that is totally a new concept and please, a new concept is not a bigger mobile phone size (till it’s Apple) or rounded edges of the body. This is primarily the reason why it is said that the mobile industry is in for an almost flat growth curve and price wars have started. Xiaomi and Micromax have captured the market solely because they have differentiated on the basis of price, the technology being more or less the same.

The takeaway is, innovation is the essence of survival in the market. If you cannot; the customer will act like the Buridan’s Ass but YOUR product will die.

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8 Comments
  1. Anuradha Srivastava 3 years ago

    Very well analyzed this interesting concept. :good: :good:

  2. Abhirup Bhattacharya 3 years ago

    Superb analysis :mrgreen:

  3. Shubhangi Garg 3 years ago

    Great!
    Innovating is the way to survive. But it is quite impossible to keep innovating always…there are limitations in terms of resources, feasibility and scope. I believe, along with innovation , a company should focus on creating a strategy that would allow it to maintain its point of disparity(POD) and make it inimitable at the same time.. one of the ways to do that is to achieve POD by differentiating ‘across’ activities. For example, POD by offering low cost will not survive long, it will lead to a price war. However, if the company offers a low price based on low cost solution (like Walmart, which initially lowered its cost by opening stores in non-urban areas, hence cheaper rents; reduced material cost by buying its own warehouses and pick up trucks, which in turn allowed it to gain bargaining power with vendors; reducing employee cost by automating check out processes and automatic ordering). A competitor can copy some of them, but not all of them. This difference would allow a sustainable growth. 🙂

    • Shubhangi Garg 3 years ago

      Sorry, a typo in line 5 .. I meant POD by offering low ‘price’ will not survive long.. its the beginning a futile price war leading to self destruction, unless cutting costs is taken care as well.

    • Author
      Shatakshi Tripathi 3 years ago

      I guess I should have worked more on explaining the idea of innovation. Innovation is not restricted to technology only; it is about every thing that relates to any thing of your product. Though I personally feel that playing a price game is the worst of a business strategy. There are always options that we need to look upon. Of-course Walmart was one of a kind but in general market situations as far as my analysis goes, companies usually do not indulge into a price war. The indulge in a variation of what you wrote in the last line. 🙂

  4. Sarthak Brahma 3 years ago

    superb stuff Shatakshi… 💡

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Buridan’s Ass and Points of Disparity Concept

by Shatakshi Tripathi time to read: 2 min
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