Why We Don’t Make a Big Deal about Prime Day


We’re less than a week out from Amazon’s 2021 Prime Day, and everyone is talking about how big of a deal it is for brands. Our opinion is a little different: Prime Day is a big deal, but not for the reasons most people think.


Is participating in Prime Day actually good for brands?

Sometimes, but not if you’re a premium brand. Prime Day works best for high-volume products that aren’t reliant on maintaining a strong brand identity and a high price point. Most premium brands are actually discount averse, meaning that discounting hurts more than it helps.

Maintaining pricing integrity is really important for premium brands. If consumers start realizing they can get a product cheaper during a certain day or season, they might start waiting for the discount to purchase. Habitual discounting can also erode brand equity and send the wrong message to other retailers that don’t get to participate in discounts.

There are instances where discounting is strategic for premium brands, but the goal should never be to move volume or to boost short-term sales.


For premium brands, the advantages of Prime Day have nothing to do with deals

Prime Day brings more traffic to Amazon than any other two-day period. There’s no better time to try and catch consumer attention, and there are several strategies brands can use to do that:

Double down on advertising – Increasing your advertising budgets is a great way to reach Amazon shoppers on one of the busiest days of the year. More impressions, more volume, more sales. That’s the goal.

Stretch your ad dollars further – Amazon charges a pretty penny for specific types of Prime Day advertisements. Programs like Lightning Deals that appear on the homepage are significantly more expensive than they are on non-holidays. Focus your efforts — and your advertising dollars — on sponsored products and sponsored brand campaigns instead.

Retarget, retarget, retarget – Brands might not catch every shopper on Prime Day, but increased traffic can leave brands with a healthy retargeting pool for the rest of the year.

If you must discount, do it strategically – Discounting for the sake of discounting is not a great strategy, but there are certain circumstances where it makes sense. For instance, consider discounting if you’re launching a product in a highly competitive category. Or, if your brand is trying to clear inventory or sunset a product, discounting can be a good option.


A brief history of Prime Day

Prime Day has been around since 2015, making this the sixth annual event. Every year, Amazon sends out a post-event recap that talks highlights. If you look at those highlights side by side, a pattern starts to emerge:

2015 – Top performing products were Amazon devices and Instant Pot 7-in-1 programmable pressure cookers.

2016 – Top performing products were Amazon devices, shoes, toys, and Instant Pot cookers.

2017 – Echo Dot, an Amazon device, was the most popular Prime Day purchase. Other top sellers were toys and Instant Pot cookers.

2018 – Bestsellers were the Amazon Fire TV Stick and the Echo Dot, both Amazon devices. Customers purchased more than five million items in each of the following categories: Toys, Beauty, PCs and computer accessories, Apparel, and Kitchen products. Instant Pot cookers also performed very well.

2019 – Amazon devices were the top-performing products.

2020 – Top-selling categories for third-party sellers included Bedding, Wireless Accessories, Nutrition & Wellness, Arts, Crafts & Sewing, and Health Care. If you’re thinking, “Wow this year looks very different from the rest,” that’s because it was. Retail and the world were in the heat of the pandemic. Prime Day was in October, many of us were still stuck in some sort of quarantine, and shoppers were buying indoor entertainment items and holiday gifts.

The bottom line is: Aside from 2020, which was an unusual year for many reasons, Prime Day is biggest for Amazon devices, toys, and consumer electronics. Those are the top categories for this event. If you’re a brand in one of those categories, Prime Day participation is a bigger deal than it is for say a Sports and Outdoor brand.