There is no denying the dominance Amazon has exerted in the retail world. When it comes to convenience Amazon reigns supreme. Their annual Prime Day set new records for traffic and sales. Much of these sales were driven by sales of Amazon brands, especially in the technology category.
Recently Amazon has greatly expanded their efforts on brand creation especially into the apparel space. While their electronics and CPG brands have been widely successful the jury is still out on whether customers will embrace these Amazon apparel brands.
Part of the problem might be that Amazon’s apparel brands fall into something of a retail version of “Uncanny Valley” when it comes to their apparel brands and consumers. The Uncanny Valley is a concept typically associated with AI and robotics. Fundamentally as the design of a robot becomes more human-like, there comes a point where its features are met with uncomfortable reaction from actual humans. It’s a rejection of something that for lack of a better analogy, looks like a “duck” quacks like “duck” and yet it’s NOT a duck.
Similarly, Amazon’s apparel brands look and feel like true apparel brands but there is something missing. It seems that the company that grew itself on ‘commoditizing’ retail might be struggling to build a brand due to that perception. Their brands have all the trimmings of an apparel brand but are severely lacking in any sort of brand identity.
Amazon’s struggle with building brands was highlighted at a recent panel of vertically integrated digital brands. Jennifer Goldfarb, president of ipsy, a makeup subscription service, pointed out that-
"Brands these days aren’t just some executives sitting in room deciding what a brand is," she said. "They're bringing consumers into the conversation."
Laura Behrens Wu, CEO of Shippo added,
“Who enjoys thinking about Amazon in their private life? No one does.”
Building a connection with customers requires a connection with consumers, a trust and it goes way beyond trusting that a product will arrive in 2-days or that you can return it for free.
Is the “world’s most customer centric company” missing the mark and failing to bring customers in to the conversation in the right way to build brands?