I am providing suggestions for a document which will serve as a business plan. In it, it describes the market the authors are entering as oligopolistic.

This is factually correct but sounds dramatic and out of context for a business plan. However, I can't think of a good, concise synonym.

Basically I need a single or small number of words to describe an industry in which a small number of providers dominate the market without invoking thoughts of anarcho-capitalism or wealthy Russians.

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive about this? Does it not matter?

  • 1
    Oligopoly is not the word which describes a market in which there are limited customers. Quite the contrary it describes circumstances in which there are a limited number of producers or sellers. It is in fact a less extreme form of monopoly. This would seem to be a fundamental misunderstanding that needs correction before you start thinking of an alternative word.
    – WS2
    Mar 14, 2015 at 8:28
  • The Wikipedia article which discusses oligopoly makes references to several different types of oligopolistic market conditions. You might want to figure out which of them applies in your case so that your description can be precise.
    – Erik Kowal
    Mar 14, 2015 at 9:57
  • @quant: Are you talking about the "barriers to entry" that are typically present when a few companies dominate a market?
    – TRomano
    Mar 14, 2015 at 11:14
  • @TRomano more broadly, yes, that's the topic.
    – quant
    Mar 14, 2015 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


Try "controlled by a few players" or "dominated by a few players". They mean the same thing, but they're not so formal, because not from Greek..

  • controlled is good if indeed they do control, but also dominated might serve
    – djna
    Mar 14, 2015 at 11:05

Highly concentrated is a non-pejorative term.

From Economics Online:


Defining and measuring oligopoly

An oligopoly is a market structure in which a few firms dominate. When a market is shared between a few firms, it is said to be highly concentrated.

Thanks to Andrew Leach for pointing out that oligopolies aren't always non-competitive.

  • The UK supermarket sector is dominated by a small number of providers (Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrison's, basically) but it's hardly non-competitive.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 14, 2015 at 9:57

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