Where AmazonBasics is Winning

Since AmazonBasics launched Amazon has been quietly adding a couple hundred new products every quarter. The brand now has more than 2,000 products on sale. To understand the success of AmazonBasics we analyzed how the brand performs in each category on Amazon.com. We looked at each sub-category, for example Batteries, Chargers & Accessories sub-category of the Accessories & Supplies category in the Electronics department.

AmazonBasics private label brand is getting better at both launching successful products and expanding to more categories. One of the AmazonBasics products is in the Top 100 in 170 categories, up from 150 four months ago. 725 different AmazonBasics products are in the Top 100 in any category, up from 550.

Number of AmazonBasics products in Amazon.com Top 100 in any category

Various cables in Electronics, curtain rods in Home Décor, sheet sets in Bedding, and supplies in Office Products are examples of categories where AmazonBasics has both the top spot and the majority of the category. In the cables category half of the top 100 selling products are made by AmazonBasics.

While these increases appear small they are not trivial percentage-wise. Amazon is perfecting the private-label production line and finding categories where the notion of a brand is virtually irrelevant. The reason why AmazonBasics cables outsell competition is because it doesn’t matter what the label says. At least that’s what most customers agree with.

AmazonBasics batteries

“It started with a simple battery” Julie Creswell wrote in The New York Times article titled “Amazon, the Brand Buster”, introducing the AmazonBasics brand Amazon launched in 2009. The private-label brand is best known for the batteries which have since become best-selling batteries on Amazon, outperforming national brands like Energizer and Duracell.

Amazon “made” those batteries best-sellers by tweaking the search algorithm to rank them higher. They are also cheaper than the alternatives and perform just as well, if reviews are to be believed, so it didn’t take long for them to become the default choice of not only the algorithm but of people too. The most important realization here is how customers pick the batteries they’d want to buy and how much - if at all - the brand plays a part.

“About 70 percent of the word searches done on Amazon’s search browser are for generic goods. That means consumers are typing in “men’s underwear” or “running shoes” rather than asking, specifically, for Hanes or Nike.”

Julie Creswell, The New York Times

AmazonBasics batteries became a success not because Amazon has unrivaled access to data, customer insights, or unfair prioritization in the search. While all of those contributed, the biggest factor in the end was that customers were searching for “batteries” and offering a cheaper product was enough to erode any brand loyalty to Energizer and Duracell.

Julie Creswell of The New York Times called Amazon the “brand buster” because AmazonBasics is an example of when customers are ultimately looking for the best deal with the best price. The brand is second. But this is not true for all categories. And thus is the reason why Amazon is also working on a hundred more homegrown brands in other categories.

In the end, AmazonBasics is not a brand. It’s a collection of products for when the brand doesn’t matter.

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziukėnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Joe wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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