Hanley highlighted how consolidation of markets leaves consumers with fewer opportunities for choosing products based on ethical or behavioral factors. He gave his presentation, entitled Market Consolidation: Presence, Effects and Recourse, on April 9, 2017, at the TEDxUConn Conference at the university’s main campus in Storrs.
Hanley was one of 13 speakers at the day-long conference, where the theme was Catalysts in Context, and topics ranged from disciplines such as educational psychology to astrophysics. He was the first law student to be featured at a TEDxUConn conference since its inception in 2013.
Hanley’s talk suggested that every market that consumers deal with on a day-to-day basis is consolidated, and he started his discussion by asking conference attendees to envision their typical morning. "You immediately grab your phone, turn off your alarm, check your text messages, check Facebook. Brush your teeth sooner or later — hopefully.” Each product—the phone, the social media platform and the toothpaste brand—has already been chosen for consumers through market consolidation, he said.
“That phone you picked up? It’s one of two options for the operating system it’s running on. The soda you drank in the middle of the day? One of three companies. The computer you used to get your work done? The search engine and the operating system, two options respectively.”
Consolidation, Hanley said, has legal and behavioral consequences, although not all are obvious to consumers. Hanley, who studied business management at the University of Connecticut and is currently studying trust law, said a lack of legal enforcement could bring even more market consolidation.
Next steps for Hanley include a Janet D. Steiger Fellowship at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection this summer. The fellowship program, chaired by Wiggin and Dana Partner Robert Langer ‘73, provides internships for law students in the consumer protection departments of state attorneys general throughout the United States. It was created in memory of former Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Janet D. Steiger.