Amazon earlier this month quietly launched its Wickedly Prime line of premium snack foods, more than half a year after first indicating plans to expand its private-label efforts into the snack segment.
Wickedly Prime, available only to Amazon Prime members, includes popcorn, tortilla chips and soft shell almonds. Unlike the e-commerce giant's Happy Belly, Mama Bear and Presto! consumables brands, Wickedly Prime features the Amazon “smile” in its logo as well as the Prime trademark; in addition, its packaging states “Distributed by Amazon Fulfillment Services” compared to the “AFS Brands LLC” notation found on sibling brands, notes e-commerce data measurement, analytics and search optimization firm OneClickRetail.
That doesn’t mean that Wickedly Prime is getting more attention from Amazon, however. “[W]ithin the last two months we have seen Amazon pushing all of their consumable private brands aggressively,” OneClickRetail states.
Amazon’s slow-yet-steady incursion into the consumables market increasingly escalates the threat the e-retailer poses to grocery stores and consumer products manufacturers. It's not just about adding more products to the lineup: OneClickRetail last month found that Amazon is now applying its “Amazon’s Choice” website tag to all of its consumable private brands, including Presto! laundry detergent, while in the past that designation would go to top sellers like Tide detergent.
Amazon’s Choice was introduced in May 2015 as a product designation for both traditional search and the Amazon Echo internet-connected speaker. OneClickRetail notes that Alexa, the personal assistant technology powering voice-activated Echo devices, will now suggest Amazon private-label goods if the customer has not previously indicated a specific brand preference. For example, if an Echo user orders laundry detergent. Alexa will add to their shopping list whatever detergent brand is in their order history, but if there are no previous orders for detergent, Alexa responds “I didn’t find that in your order history, but Amazon’s Choice for laundry detergent is Presto! The order total is $19.99. Should I order it?”
“By applying Amazon’s Choice to private brands including Presto!, Amazon Element Baby Wipes and Happy Belly Coffee and Nuts, Amazon is leveraging the competitive advantage of owning the retail environment,” according to OneClickRetail. “This has long been the norm among America’s largest retailers that stock private brands alongside their traditional suppliers and apply promotions to them to increase sales and traffic in the same way suppliers do.”
Amazon’s private label brand effort is likely a mechanism to gain leverage and market share, OneClickRetail founder and CEO Spencer Millerberg told Retail Dive. “Grocery is a frequency play, and Amazon is after share of wallet,” he said.
In his report on Wickedly Prime, OneClickRetail’s JT Meng (who once worked for Amazon on its private label effort) compares the line to “something you might find at Trader Joe’s” — well packaged, higher-end products with the tagline “Some eat to LIVE, we live to EAT.” And Wickedly Prime’s belated rollout mirrors that of the e-commerce retailer’s other private label efforts, which allows Amazon to make adjustments as data rolls in and illuminates potential sources of friction.
“Amazon has unique benefits in terms of data they have from customer behaviors and their background in e-commerce that allows them to create products that customers really like,” Meng told Retail Dive. “That has made their conservative slow burn approach very effective.”