July and August have been very high-profile months for Amazon. First of all, it celebrated the 20th anniversary of its start as an online bookseller in July 1995. It's amazing what 20 years can do for a business. Amazon also posted another quarterly profit (not yet a consistent event for it). Plus, in mid-July, as part of its anniversary celebration, it launched its first Prime Day that took on Walmart, the number two retailer in the United States based on customer counts (not based on dollars sold), according to our ongoing consumer survey. Amazon was also a major sponsor of the New York Fashion Week: Men's event that took place in mid-July. August, however, was not so positive, as The New York Times published a front-page article that devoted pages to Amazon's business and human resources practices, which led a few days later to Jeff Bezos's response to many of the criticisms included in the article.
Based on Amazon's recent endeavors, some upscale marketers (both affluent and luxury) are now wondering what else, if anything, Amazon plans to do in these markets in the near future. It already sells many upscale watches and jewelry on its site, as well as some premium and luxury fragrance and cosmetic brands. And Lacoste, an upscale fashion brand to many, has started marketing its apparel on Amazon.
From our perspective, Amazon is well positioned with upscale American consumers to market all categories of upscale goods and services, assuming these brands can become comfortable working with Amazon. What we currently know is the following:
Based on its current positioning among affluent and luxury consumers, we suspect that Amazon will continue moving deeper into the affluent and luxury markets. Consequently, we recommend that upscale marketers spend some of their energy reviewing the consumer benefits that Amazon provides and consider offering as many of them as they can. Shoppers want "convenience" and "to save time," to cite just two, and Amazon is offering those and other benefits to its millions of shoppers. Upscale marketers who don't offer comparable or better benefits in the near future do so at their peril.