It’s that week again. The week that I have feared and anticipated in equal measure since 2015. The week that can make or break a brand’s non-Q4 sales: Amazon
I raised the topic of Prime Day a few weeks ago in a group chat with other ecommerce industry execs. A virtual groan arose. “I mean, how many more robot vacuum cleaners do we really need?” joked the CMO of an ecommerce technology firm. Some agreed, lamenting the predictability of the manufactured shopping frenzy. Others like myself noted that we actually were in-market for items like robot vacuums because of life changes, like moving homes, and eagerly awaiting the shopping event.
It was the perfect pastiche of Prime Day 2022, and how brands are approaching it. 7 years on from the inaugural event, some brands eagerly anticipate it, while others go through the motions or ignore it entirely. Like Black Friday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and other shopping events, a playbook has emerged for Prime Day – both from Amazon and the brands that sell there. We can expect big discounts on Amazon devices like Kindles and Alexa-enabled devices. We can expect influencers to hawk deals on livestream videos. We can expect enticing, but usually not jaw-dropping, deals from brands that sell on Amazon.
But it can be dangerous to assume a rote, “here we go again” stance. While I’m not expecting a huge departure from Amazon’s own Prime Day playbook, there are always new angles that other brands are trying, and seemingly small tests that Amazon is conducting in the background. Here are some of the things that are different this year that should not fly under the radar.
1. Brands promoting their deals off-channel
There used to be a time where brands’ ultimate concern was that Amazon would somehow cannibalize their DTC or retail sales. For the most part, brands have now concluded that they should enable purchases wherever the shopper is most comfortable transacting.
Recognizing the value of outside traffic, Amazon also launched Amazon Attribution and the Brand Referral Bonus program to incentivize brands to pitch in and top efforts to acquire new shoppers.
That’s why we’re seeing more brands promote their Prime Day deals through other marketing channels like email marketing.
Mobvoi, a consumer electronics brand, promoted their Prime Day deals through an email blast earlier this week.
And Instanatural, a beauty brand, have already announced a 40% off sale on their Instagram page.
2. Other retailers piling on
Other retailers have launched competing shopping events since the birth of Prime Day.
Over the years, they have become less subtle. This email campaign from apparel resale retailer ThredUp was one of the most brazen I’ve seen.
“Ditch that other wasteful sale!” an email campaign from the retailer said, offering a hefty discount and appealing to its customers’ desire for more eco-friendly shopping alternatives.
Amazon historically waited until the very last moment to confirm the Prime Day dates. This year, the dates were leaked earlier than usual – three weeks out. This could either mean that it was a poorly kept secret that was likely to surface – or that Amazon recognizes that an industry-wide sales event actually has the effect of a rising tide lifting all shops.
Shoppers have become attuned to big sale events over the summer months. Instead of holding out for discretionary purchases, they may purchase them earlier, or stock-up on consumables during the sale.
3. Save deals for later… or let Alexa order for you
It has become easier for shoppers to follow brands and products so they can jump on a deal when it goes live. One hack for shoppers is to add a bunch of items to their shopping cart and get notified by Amazon when they go on sale.
This is generally good news for brands, especially when they are spending on advertising to get in front of those shoppers and hoping that they return to purchase later. Indeed, stepping up ad spend well ahead of the event is a strategy that we recommend at my agency, Bobsled Marketing. Expanding the potential audience, who are in research mode ahead of Prime Day, means you can prompt some items to be added to cart and repurchased later, or for those shoppers who got away – retarget them later through DSP (demand side platform) ad campaigns.
This year, there’s a new way for shoppers to keep tabs on deals: Alexa. Shoppers can now ask Alexa to buy the item for them, with some parameters around price and timing. Todd Hassenfelt, Ecommerce Growth Strategy & Planning Lead at Colgate-Palmolive
Hassenfelt says that this could help savvy brands if they encourage people via social or email campaigns to add their Brand’s Products to Amazon Carts or Wish Lists to be eligible for these Deals Alerts.
4. Amazon released deals early
Amazon often sells inventory of “deals” to brands using broad time windows – this happens both during shopping events and all other days of the year. Some brands were disappointed to buy access to Prime Day deals, only find that Amazon sold their deals earlier than the big event.
“Many Lightning Deals scheduled for Prime Day have fallen outside the published Prime Day window of July 12-13th, said Gwen McShea, President at Lean Edge Marketing, in a post on LinkedIn. Many shoppers hold out on their transactions before Prime Day in the hopes of getting a good discount. ” Point blank… they are going to be less effective because of the timing.”
Some brands have decided to sit out Prime Day this year, in part due to pressures on profit margins driven by inflation. In a survey of my agency’s clients, two of the top three challenges brands anticipate around Prime Day 2022 are related to the macro economy: thinner profit margins due to inflation (28%), standing out in the crowd (26%), and limited inventory availability (16%).
With Prime Day and competing sales events now a mainstay of the retail calendar, there’s no avoiding the fact that shoppers now expect to enjoy the thrill of shopping a big sale. Brands can embrace that opportunity, or sit on the sidelines.