‘Tis the season to sell on Amazon! October through December is the busiest time of year for both sellers and shoppers. Amazon’s Q4 sales reached $137.4 billion in 2021, a 24% increase from the previous quarter. This year will likely set a new record. A recent Deloitte report projects online sales will grow by up to 14.3% this holiday season with Forbes forecasting a $1 trillion eCommerce market by 2025.
Despite a strong forecast, brands have their work cut out for them. As the marketplace has grown, so has the competition. Many of the most recognizable brands in the world now compete on Amazon, with 75% of U.S. consumers wanting to see their favorite brands and retailers on eCommerce sites.
The good news is succeeding on Amazon is not merely a matter of your marketing budget. It’s about strategy. Amazon is built so that even smaller brands can compete against heavyweights. With this in mind, we’ve identified three top-selling brands on Amazon along with a different marketing strategy used by each that sellers of any size can replicate this holiday season.
1. Tell Your Brand Story
Nearly six out of ten customers prefer to buy new products from familiar brands. Branding helps build a connection with customers, establish trust, and develop loyalty. Let’s take a look at how one of the most successful toy companies on Amazon promotes their brand story.
According to Similarweb data, Barbie has generated $85.4 million in Amazon sales from January to September 2022. With 26.1 million product views in the same time period, only four other toy brands rank higher. Below are Barbie’s top-selling ASINs this year, including units sold and revenue generated.
One reason why Barbie performs so well is because the company maintains a robust brand Store. This is an online storefront on Amazon dedicated to your brand. Stores introduce customers to your product catalog through customized rich media, including text, images, and videos.
The best thing about Stores is the ability to control its look and feel. Your storefront can look entirely different from the typical Amazon layout. This helps reinforce your brand and offers a more engaging experience for shoppers.
A recent study commissioned by Google Cloud found that 82% of consumers prefer buying from brands aligned with their core values. In addition, 39% of consumers said they would boycott their favorite brands if there was a clash in values. This is why ecommerce marketplaces provide sellers the space to create their own unique brand experience.
Creating a Store gives you a dedicated space on Amazon to introduce new products, showcase bestsellers, and even provide personalized recommendations. Think of it as your brand’s Amazon real estate. Unlike your product detail pages, competitors can’t advertise on your Store. It’s essentially a mini website for your business. You even get your own Amazon.com web address to use in marketing campaigns (www.amazon.com/barbie).
See below how Barbie not only reinforces its brand with their Store, but also keeps it updated with seasonal content like a Holiday Toys List banner that links to a page showcasing curated products. This strategy helps Barbie harness the momentum of holiday shoppers – and it works. Similarweb data shows the popular toy company generated $85.8 million in Amazon sales from October to December 2021, compared with $29.9 million for the previous three months.
2. Defend Your Brand’s Search Pages
More than two billion shoppers visit Amazon each month to browse and purchase products. As your brand develops recognition, more customers will search directly for your catalog. This is called branded search. It’s important to defend these shoppers from competitors. Let’s analyze how another top Amazon seller uses advertising not to attract new customers, but to prevent losing existing ones.
According to Similarweb data, Blue Buffalo sold 8.13 million items and generated $225.4 million in revenue from January to September 2022. As the highest-grossing brand in the pet supplies category on Amazon, Blue Buffalo has the advantage of brand recognition. Hundreds of thousands of customers type “Blue Buffalo” directly into the Amazon search bar each month:
Despite the obvious benefit, this creates a vulnerability. A savvy competitor could use this to their advantage by creating cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns around Blue Buffalo search terms. This strategy would enable rival sellers to potentially siphon customers (more on this later).
Blue Buffalo defends their Amazon space with their own sponsored content. See the screenshot below that shows an Amazon search for “blue buffalo dog food.” The first piece of content that appears is a Sponsored Brands ad. Imagine how much traffic the company would risk losing if an ad for Pedigree appeared in the same spot. Blue Buffalo prevents this by bidding on their own branded search keywords. Note how the company continues this strategy in the next row of items with three Sponsored Products ads.
Defensive advertising is a powerful strategy on Amazon. You want to be the only brand that appears on the screen when customers search for your products. By protecting their branded search results, Blue Buffalo helps maintain a healthy, year-long Amazon conversion rate of 34.1% (the average is 10 – 14%). According to Similarweb data, this increased to 38.9% during the 2021 holiday shopping season.
3. Invade Your Competitors’ Amazon Space
Not all your competitors will leverage a defensive advertising strategy, which is good for you. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Getting your brand in front of shoppers searching for similar products can divert new customers to your Store.
American Soft Linen uses this strategy to help grow its customer base. With $9.5 million in sales from January to September 2022, American Soft Linen is among the three highest-selling brands on Amazon for bath towels. Part of the company’s strategy is to bid on the branded searches of rivals to siphon traffic to its Store. For example, see below how the company has a Sponsored Brands ad at the top of the page for the search term “bedsure towel.”
Bedsure generated $6.3 million in sales and 686.5 million product views on Amazon from January to September 2022. This means Bedsure has a high branded search volume. American Soft Linen bids on these search terms to invade their Amazon space and poach customers.
This aggressive advertising strategy is especially effective for smaller brands that want to generate awareness of their products. The secret is to find competitors with a high volume of branded search traffic that do not protect their Amazon space. Don’t waste time or money in bid wars with brands that have big budgets. Instead, look for top-selling rivals with weak defensive advertising strategies.
Channel Key Takeaway:
Amazon has never been more competitive than it is today. What was once a supplemental marketplace is now a primary sales channel for many industry leaders – especially during the holidays. Similarweb data shows that the Toys, Pet Supplies, and Home & Kitchen categories grossed a combined $28.2 billion in Q4 sales last year. This kind of volume provides an opportunity for smaller brands to increase their market share. They might not have enormous budgets, but even startup brands have the same marketing tools available to them as established heavyweights like Barbie, Blue Buffalo, and American Soft Linen. More importantly, smaller brands can replicate some of the very marketing strategies that help keep these contenders at the top. Reinforcing your brand story, protecting your Amazon space as your traffic grows, and advertising on low-cost competitor pages will help drive sales not only during the holiday shopping season, but all year long.