Amazon appears poised to solidify its “Prime Day” shopping holiday as a bona fide marketing event with an extended offering this year -- six hours longer than its record-breaking Prime Day 2017. Although it faces summer-sale competition from other retailers, Amazon’s Prime Day 2018 is stacking up as a marketing muscle show of force. However, what are the potential strategic advantages of this marketing endeavor? Amazon is clearly a skilled marketer, and this event has at least three distinct benefits.
First, Prime Day has the opportunity to showcase the value of being a member of Amazon Prime. That is, for those uncertain of whether to be a member—membership has a yearly cost of over $100—Prime Day showcases the privileges that come with membership. For example, this year, Amazon has included grocer Whole Foods in Prime Day deals. Whole Foods is offering Prime members a $10 credit to spend during Prime Day. The ability to save on Whole Foods shopping is yet another incentive to participate in Amazon’s Prime Membership. Indeed, by bringing Whole Foods into the Prime Day extravaganza, Amazon is putting even more attention on its Prime membership and giving people more reasons to join the program. The power of the event to attract new member was acknowledge by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos noted that more new Prime members joined on last year’s Prime Day than on any other day in the company’s history. Thus, Prime Day 2018 is a high-visibility marketing opportunity for Amazon to promote Prime Membership.
Second, Prime Day provides a means to reward, and maintain, those who already are members of Amazon’s prime program. That is, in addition to other benefits of membership, such as free shipping, access to music, and access to movies, Amazon’s Prime Day promises many widely anticipated deals for its members. And, these members are important to the brand. As a means to understand just how important Prime Membership is to the brand, Bezos recently revealed in his shareholder letter that Prime membership has exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally. Bezos also disclosed that last year Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items with Prime worldwide. Indeed, maintaining a loyal customer can be as valuable, if not more valuable, than acquiring a new consumer, and again this is a savvy use of Prime Day.
Third, Prime Day can be a platform for boosting sales on Amazon. Many of the deals we will see on Prime day are technology-based and focused on Amazon’s core offerings, including Echo Show, Prime Video, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Kindle Unlimited. One product to watch is Alexa. Not only could Amazon see strong Prime Day sales for Alexa, which is among the growing number of electronic virtual assistants, but Alexa could also be used as a device to further enable e-commerce, which might help boost Prime Day sales. Prime Day is also targeting “content,” in order to spark more loyalty from Prime customers. For example, one Prime deal is four months of unlimited music for 99 cents through Amazon, which is seen as competing directly with rival Apple.
In addition to the strategic benefits of Prime Day has as a marketing effort, Amazon has also clearly put thought into how to market the event. Amazon has been promoting Prime Day with pre-event deals and offerings across the breadth of its platform. For example, Twitch Prime is offering 21 free games to lead up to the big sale. This promotion is sound, especially given that the event appears to be facing rising competition. Several retailers are launching their own, competing “Black Friday in July” sales. Among them are Kohl’s and Macy’s with July sales promotions. In addition, Walmart has a new summer sale, such as offering deals on several TVs. Although the attraction of competition can be frustrating, it also is evidence of the value the brand has created with Prime Day.
Now in its fourth season, Prime Day, begins Monday, July 16, at 12 p.m. PT and lasts for 36 hours through Tuesday, July 17. It’s an interesting marketing event with potential benefits for both consumers and the brand. For a brand as big as Amazon, it is certainly a show of its marketing muscle. It’s worth keeping an eye on, and potentially checking out the deals too.