Take Notes, Consumer Brands: How Amazon Crushed the 2015 Holiday Season

Amazon Black Friday

In a recent episode of a new weekly video series, Mingled Marketing, Fathom’s Jon Pogact and Paul Richlovsky talk about the diminishing impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping trends as well as the evolution of the [broader] marketing landscape. As I was watching the video, Amazon immediately stood out in my mind as one of the top retail leaders on the forefront of that broadening, evolving marketing space.

This year, Amazon proved that leadership on Cyber Monday by winning over 36% of all online sales.


Amazon crushing it on Black Friday!

So, What’s Amazon’s Big Secret?

Just like a consumer brand, Amazon’s top online competitors are almost always the big box retailers. Knowing this, any consumer brand can learn a lot from Amazon’s domination over retailers during the holiday season.

So, what is Amazon’s secret sauce? We believe it is the un-paralleled customer experience they provide. Let’s take a deeper look into some strategies where Amazon takes it to the next level for their customers, and also explore what a consumer brand can learn from these strategies:

Two Days = More Than Two Weeks

Amazon shut down the traditional way of looking at Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the only two days for consumers to get holiday deals, and turned it into a two-week experience. This year, the company created eight days of deals that began with alerts (popping up as frequently as every five minutes) on November 20th and continued on through Black Friday.

During the eight days of deals, Amazon did something really interesting. They set up alerts for each deal that let the customer know when the deal was available. This tactic is so smart and can be especially useful in engaging your customers, because it keeps your brand top of mind. In addition to the eight days of deals, a new feature was rolled out that (for the first time) allowed customers to “effortlessly keep tabs on top deals from anywhere with the ‘Watch A Deal’ feature”—bringing them even closer with next-level consumer engagement tactics. Finally, the hype has continued through Cyber Week and into the ‘12 Days of Deals’—allowing consumers an even larger number of chances to get what they want.

A Solid Mobile Experience Is A Better Customer Experience

Almost all consumers are shopping on their mobile phones—even grandma. If using the Amazon app to shop the latest deals wasn’t enough, consumers were given mobile-exclusive opportunities to buy some of the online giant’s best “lightening” deals. This means that you’d first need to download and use the shopping app, and [second] purchase that deal through only the app.  This is brilliant!

As a consumer brand, the ability to drive shopping app downloads, increase revenue for some of your best products and, at the same time, create a better mobile experience for your customers is a huge win. Some are even calling this “The first smartphone Black Friday,” as mobile devices accounted for 19% of sales.

Free Shipping & Fast Delivery

Amazon caters to the consumer in a variety of ways to keep them happy and shopping. With an understanding that consumers love deals and convenience, they’ve created one of the best loyalty programs in the CRM world today: Amazon Prime. The membership costs only $99 for the entire year, where members receive plenty of rewarding benefits. In addition to the perks that come with a standard membership, they offered even more for the holiday season, including:

  1. 30 minutes of early access to deals
  2. A select number of metropolitan cities will have two hour delivery

In 2014, Prime memberships grew by 50% and are predicted to grow exponentially year after year. Analysts at Macquarie Research say that about half of the people in the United States will be members by 2020. The growth in subscriptions is impressive and is something consumer brands should note. With that being said, the loyalty that customers have shown towards Amazon by using Prime definitely shows in numbers:

  • In 2014, 20-25% of all US households had Prime
  • 50% growth in 2014 of US prime memberships
  • Prime members spend twice as much as non-Prime members do on Amazon

Bye-Bye Black Friday—Hello, Amazon Holiday Sale Season

In summation, the internet has drastically changed consumer behavior, allowing that balance of shopping power to shift drastically towards the customer. Amazon has played a huge part in this, as they are helping to reshape how we shop—especially during the holidays. The company keeps a bigger picture and more long term view in mind. Remaining customer-focused is one of their biggest strengths and [ultimately] gives them a new strategic approach towards their biggest wins—like their new approach to holiday deals.

The traditional ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ are both days of holiday past. Amazon has disrupted these previously retail-dominated sales, and turned it into the ‘Amazon Holiday Sale Season.’  There are a ton of learnings that consumer brands can take away from Amazon’s domination this holiday season.  Our key takeaway: In order to compete in this retailer-crowded holiday sales season, the consumer brand must think like their customer and truly understand what they desire in order to craft a differentiating online strategy.

If you’re struggling to take advantage of the holiday sale season, have the desire to craft a unique online strategy, or are looking to grow your consumer brand on Amazon—we’re here to help!

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