I'm Looking for a term that explains the behavior of a market participants that will lie or exaggerate how much or what they offer in order to gain access to a market that would otherwise be inaccessible.

This is simular to the concept "bait and switch" but the goal here isn't adverse-deception, its to overcome a barrier of entry.

For example, participant X wants to penetrate a market but monopoly protections prohibit entry. X can enter the market under the pretense of selling a different product and finds a way to disguise their new product to steal market share from the monopoly.

Another example, Company Y wants to start manufacturing widgets, but suppliers only contract with companies who are a part of the big widget alliance. Big Widget alliance only accepts companies who produce at a certain quantity. Y then pretends to have a certain output to gain access to the market.

Another example (but might be a different concept), is when participant Z is known as a gizmo buyer but they actually are in the market exclusively to sell gizmos.

  • $\begingroup$ I see the participant Z example in the form of ticket scrapers who publicly announce they are looking to buy tickets but are actually only selling tickets. They would not be able to sell tickets if they advertised they sold tickets. Or they advertise as selling artwork to gain access to a market looking to buy tickets to an event. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2017 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ I think the term you're looking for is "fraud". $\endgroup$
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 17, 2018 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, I was imagining there was a more nuanced or specific term to capture the phenomenon in my examples and how it can be used as an advertising/marketing strategy. For example a shop that clearly sells equipment for using illegal drugs advertising on a highway billboard as a tobacco supplies store. Its not "fraud" in the sense of being harmful to the marketplace, but is a creative adaptation to overcome a barrier of entry. $\endgroup$ Mar 17, 2018 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Well then, Google fraud synonym and see what's suggested. $\endgroup$
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 17, 2018 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ Another example is making a free game that actually can't be beat without buying in-game upgrades. So in this example listing the game as "free" allowed the company entry to a larger marketplace. Would you call this "fraud"? $\endgroup$ Mar 17, 2018 at 21:28

3 Answers 3


What about a meme agent? (e.g. an agent mimics the qualities of another agent to "fool" regulators, competitors, consumers.)

  • $\begingroup$ That might be it. But I'm having a hard time finding more information about it. Can you help me? I was asking this question b/c I'm studying this same concept but in the context of anthropology and there isn't a good term for it over there other than meme. $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2018 at 18:13

Unethical applications:

  • Misleading advertising

  • Deceptive marketing

  • your suggestion of "bait and switch" seems easily understood for some cases

This terminology is used for cases which may constitute a violation of civil and/or criminal law, depending on the specifics. I don't think "fraud" would necessarily apply, because the facts of a "bait and switch" tactic does not imply that a "fraud" (in the legal sense) would necessarily follow, even if the consumer had ultimately been manipulated in some way that was illegal under laws pertaining to (among other possibilities) misleading advertising.

Ethical applications:

I don't see that there is a need for a specific term involving ethical applications (or applications where the ethics are ambiguous, as opposed to unambiguously unethical). For example, a fundamentally honest communication can be made to the target market without implying that they are lying or misrepresenting themselves to the target audience.

Maybe something under "information economics" would lead to some theoretical structures or vocabulary which could assist in achieving an appropriate level of directness and/or nuance with respect to both a) very generalized treatment and also b) more discerning typologies of retailers/sellers that are in some manner not forthright in their overt presentation in order to gain access to a market.


To me, the metaphor that seems to provide the best fit to your examples is the expression "Trojan horse".

During the endless Trojan war, Greeks pretended to leave the battlefield and gave a celebrative gift to their enemies: the gift was a a gigantic wooden horse, which actually contained a commando of Greek warriors in the inside. The Trojans accepted the gift, let the horse in their city walls, and celebrated. At night time, however, the Greek commando got out of the horse and facilitated the entry of the rest of their army into the city of Troy.

  • $\begingroup$ I sincerely fail to understand why my answer received a negative vote. I would be perfectly fine if it did not get voted up, given that the rather vague nature of the question makes it open to very different answers. But a negative vote is hard to understand. It is funny how the world immediately turns upside down as soon as one enters the domain of economics, no matter how much of a specialist he/she can be in the field. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2018 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ No sure, I liked your answer and found it useful. I'm still learning the subculture present on this stack exchange site. It might just be an unwelcoming bunch $\endgroup$ May 17, 2018 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ I participate to other StackExchange groups and I do completely fine there. The questions are precise, the answers well reasoned, and the evaluations are entirely transparent and understandable. Unsurprisingly, things go the wrong way as soon as one turns to Economics. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2018 at 9:03

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