Amazon, the Brand Buster – The New York Times

Amazon, the Brand Buster – The New York Times

Again, here, Amazon has a big leg up on traditional retailers. Most retailers appeal to one segment of consumer — the budget, midmarket, or higher-end shopper. Amazon can offer a variety of private-label goods, positioned toward shoppers in different categories, says Deborah Weinswig, the founder and chief executive of Coresight Research.

For instance, through Amazon’s Pinzon brand, it offers a queen-size hypoallergenic mattress topper for $40.37. But it also sells a mattress topper through its AmazonBasics private label for $22.99.

Similarly, Amazon sells men’s button-down shirts under both the Amazon Essentials and Goodthreads labels. Analysts at research firm Gartner L2 found, on best-selling products, the Goodthreads apparel cost 60 percent more.

But, perhaps more important, Amazon has utilized a reviewing program called Amazon Vine for many of its private-label goods.

Amazon Vine, or Vine Voices, are very active reviewers on the Amazon marketplace who are then invited by the company to participate in its Vine program, which identifies them as influential reviewers. In exchange for free products, which they disclose receiving, the reviewers agree to write evaluations on Amazon’s site.

Amazon has actively used Vine Voices to help introduce its private label brands. An analysis of more than 1,600 products across ten of Amazon’s private-label brands, including AmazonBasics, Amazon Essentials, Mama Bear, Pinzon, Goodthreads, and others, showed that about half had Vine reviews. Of those 835 products, more than half of the first 30 reviews were from the Vine program, according to ReviewMeta.com, an online tool that helps customers identify inauthentic reviews.

While, for the most part, the Vine and non-Vine reviews were similarly rated, in a handful of cases, the Vine reviews were significantly better. For instance, Vine reviews for Amazon’s Mama Bear diapers and baby products averaged 4.36 stars; non-Vine reviews averaged 3.82 stars.

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