In the latest issue of Marketing an analyst describes the financial services sector as “a very vanilla industry”.

By this he means that it’s an industry in which several big players can co-exist in relative peace, presumably as opposed to an industry in which businesses on top dominate and punish the ones on the bottom (the household cleaners sector is a bit like this, according to the same issue, but they shy away from such colourful metaphors).

Anyway, I’ve not seen the word used in this way in the business press before, and thought I’d draw it to your attention.