More than three-quarters of Amazon searches are unbranded, seeking for generic products rather than name brands. According to Marketplace Pulse research, 78% of keyword searches done on Amazon are for generic goods. That means consumers are searching for “running shoes women” or “tennis shoes for men” rather than asking, specifically, for Nike, Adidas, or Puma.
One hundred thousand most popular search terms by volume were analyzed, representing an estimated 64% of all Amazon search volume. Search terms including a brand name like “Apple” or a specific product like “iPhone” were counted as branded. 78% of the top 100,000 search terms didn’t include a brand; however, more popular search terms are more likely to be branded - 74% of the top 10,000 and 68% of the top 1,000 search terms include a brand name.
Search keywords highlight how Amazon shoppers’ behavior is shifted from a brand-driven world observed elsewhere to a needs-based decision process. Unlike on social media where shoppers follow particular brands or go to brand boutiques, on Amazon, they are most often searching for a need. For example, instead of looking for specific Nike shoes, they are searching for any running shoes and then using reviews and ratings to pick the best.
“aa batteries,” “aaa batteries,” and “rechargeable batteries” are some of the most searched terms on Amazon. Each search term is in the top 1,000. “Duracell aa batteries” and “energizer rechargeable batteries” are the first occurrences of Duracell and Energizer brand names in search; however, both appear less frequently than generic search terms. Brandless searching not only highlights need-based shopping but is also the reason why AmazonBasics batteries are best sellers. Amazon has capitalized on generic search terms to launch many successful private label products.
Further, even if shoppers include a brand name in their search, other brands can bid on that keyword through Amazon advertising. As a result, search results often include other brand’s products in the form of Sponsored products. Searching for “Nike running shoes,” for example, returns an ASICS pair as one of the first results. Plus, even in specific searches like “apple airpods,” search results include alternative brands since there are only four products by Apple meeting this query, but Amazon wants to display dozens of search results. “Casper mattress” search results show Casper mattresses first but list fifty more mattresses, one even with the Best Seller in mattresses tag.
The combination of advertising and similar products make even branded searches not safe from competing brands taking the sale. Even if the shopper explicitly searched for the brand.
All this doesn’t mean that shoppers on Amazon ignore or are unfamiliar with brands. On the contrary, “Nike shoes men” and “Adidas shoes women” appear more often than the generic “running shoes men.” However, in aggregate, most searches are brandless. In some categories like running shoes shoppers are familiar with Nike or Adidas, and thus explicitly search for them. In most categories, they are not, however. They search for “laptop,” “mattress,” and “swimsuits” without being sure which brand to pick. There it’s up to the brand to surface first in search results.