Amazon Private Brands Duping Customers?

This week the traditional media and trade publications have been quick to pick up on an article from “digitally native news outlet” Quartz which raises the alarm that Amazon is developing a whole slew of secret brands.

According to the article, the site went “trawling through over 800 trademarks that Amazon has either been awarded or applied for through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Quartz identified 19 brands that are owned by Amazon and sell products or have product pages on amazon.com.”

Their list includes many brands that have already been discussed on this site Happy Belly, Mamma Bear, Presto, Denali, The Fixx (launched last week), etc.

But also misses many: Amazon Basics, Amazon Elements, Wickedly Prime, Buttoned Down, Franklin Tailored and Society New York.

Not to mention Amazon’s suite of highly successful device private brands: Kindle, Fire, Alexa, Echo, Dot, Dash, etc.

The premise of the article parrots a basic complaint of manufacturers about private labels around the world it assumes a nefarious plot by a retailer to trick customers. It further assumes that Amazon or any retailer for that matter does not have a right to own multiple brands or to name and position them in unique ways. The premise is absurd Amazon like any other company has the right to build portfolios of brands that will best engage customers and help them succeed.

Last year an infographic created by Oxfam International showing that only 10 companies own most of the worlds food brands rapidly circulated the internet. The graphic reveals unlikely ties between brands not typically associated with one another. For example, PepsiCo owns Quaker granola bars, and Nestlé owns California Pizza Kitchen. Mega-corporations own large portfolios of brands.

Amazon like Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, Family Dollar and virtually every other retailer also owns a large portfolio of brands. This ranges from as few as one at Costco to 50+ at Amazon and Target.

Retailers all around the world know that private brands are strategic pillars of retail success. Private brands are the last best hope for innovation and differentiation.

To learn more about private brand strategy at Walmart, BJ’s, Fresh Direct, Petsmart, Staples, Boxed and more join us in September for Velocity: The My Private Brand Conference.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.