Cohort moats in saturated markets

Harpreet Vishnoi
2 min readApr 21, 2023

Two years ago, I wrote about the ease of moving from one app to another if I’m not satisfied with the service provided. The market is saturated with similar apps that offer the same features and design elements, such as grocery apps (BlinkIt, Zepto, and Swiggy’s Instamart), travel apps (Uber, Ola, and Rapido), and household needs apps (Flipkart and Amazon).

As a user, my decision to use an app usually comes from word of mouth, where friends suggest apps based on their positive experiences. If the service provided by an app is poor, I can simply switch to another app with no cost involved. This is made easier by GPS location detection and the ease of making payments through UPI.

However, there are factors that differentiate these apps, such as good customer service, ease of refunds, and fewer push notifications. For example, Rapido calls riders after a night ride to ensure their safety, Zepto provides instant refunds for any bad order items under Rs 100, and Uber doesn’t bombard users with push notifications.

Each company has set up its vision on particular issues and created features around them to create unique traits that differentiate them from other major players in the market. These unique traits act as “cohort moats,” keeping a specific type of user connected to the app. When an app has a personality and unique features, it helps users make usage decisions faster and stick to the app.

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Harpreet Vishnoi

Carnegie Mellon University| Product Manager | AI Developer