Amazon has slowly but surely made its plays for the luxury space, but does it have what it takes to deliver? Bob Shullman of Shullman Research Center analyses its potential.
July 2015 was a momentous month for Amazon. First of all, it celebrated its 20th anniversary as an ongoing business. It also posted another quarterly profit (not yet a consistent event for Amazon).
Then, mid-month, as part of its anniversary, it launched its first Prime Day — with reduced prices on selected items — that took on Walmart, the number two* retailer in the United States.
Striking while the iron was still hot, Amazon also signed on as a major sponsor of the New York Fashion Week: Men’s event that took place in New York City in July, a move that – as the marquee sponsor – signaled the company’s intentions to attract more high-end brands to its primary website.
Last week, the online giant made another move, and added itself to the $8 million-strong investor list for popular fashion site Who What Wear, owned by Clique Media, and started by two former Elle magazine editors. As an affiliate, Amazon products will be featured on the site alongside fashion trends and icons, with prospective buyers linked back to its platform.
Given these developments, a good number of luxury marketers may now wondering what, if anything, Amazon plans to do next in the American luxury market in the near future.
“ Amazon is well-positioned with upscale American consumers to market all categories of luxury ”
The online behemoth already sells some luxury watches and jewellery on its site, as well as luxury fragrance and cosmetic brands, and Lacoste, a luxury fashion brand to some, is now selling its goods on Amazon.
In addition, Amazon also recently inked a deal with luxury publisher Condé Nast to partner and sell Vogue’s coveted September issue to Amazon customers in a bid to attract fashion-forward consumers to its domain.
The tie-up will see Amazon deliver the issue as soon as August 14, even though it doesn’t go on sale until August 19.
Clearly, Amazon is making a play for the luxury fashion space, however, the questions remains as to whether its bold strategy will work out.
From our perspective, Amazon is well-positioned with upscale American consumers to market all categories of luxury goods, assuming that luxury brands can become comfortable working with Amazon.
Amazon recently inked a deal with luxury publisher Condé Nast to sell Vogue’s September issue
Here are the facts working in its favor, according to Shullman Research:
• Amazon ranks number one regarding the number of American adults (144 million, or 60 percent of all adults) who reported that they bought one or more items from Amazon in the past 12 months.
• Amazon appeals a great deal to upscale consumers. According to research, 67 percent of affluent Americans (those with household incomes of $75,000 or more) and 70 percent of very affluent consumers (those with household incomes of $250,000 or more) reported they bought from Amazon during the past 12 months.
• Amazon’s affluent and very affluent customers shop there frequently. While 54 percent of all Amazon customers shop there once a month or more often, 58 percent of their affluent customers and 66 percent of their very affluent customers reported they purchased one or more items from it in the past month.
• Amazon makes it very convenient for consumers to use it, based on the reported enrollment levels in its Amazon Prime program (which offers delivery within two days of a customer’s placing an order, among other benefits, for $99 annually). About one third of all Amazon customers are enrolled in Amazon Prime, including 40 percent of affluent customers and more than half (56 percent) of the very affluent.
“ 70% of very affluent consumers reported they bought from Amazon during the past 12 months ”
• When asked to compare Amazon with other stores at which they shop, about two thirds (64 percent) of Amazon customers reported Amazon is better than other stores. Seventy-one percent of the affluent rated Amazon better, and 73 percent of the very affluent. Notably, the proportion of Amazon’s customers rating it worse than other stores at which they shop was zero percent.
• Finally, when customers were asked if there were any types of products or services they would not consider buying from Amazon, about a third reported there were some. Notably, though, no one included luxury products or services among those items they would not buy from Amazon.
Based on these observations about Amazon’s positioning among affluent consumers — who are more likely than the mass market to buy luxury goods — it’s highly likely that Amazon is on the right track to expand its offering via luxury brands, assuming, of course, that those brands decide there is an upside for them to sell on Amazon.
*Based on customer counts, not based on dollars sold – according to Shullman Pulse Research.
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