Amazon & Retail: A Powerful Marketing Mix for CPG Brands

On Amazon, CPG brands have unprecedented opportunities to create immersive content experiences and showcase customer reviews

As an e-commerce marketer, I meet owners and brand managers of CPG brands all the time. Lately, I’ve been hearing from many of them that they need to “figure out Amazon” — fast.

Often, they’re frustrated. They don’t have a strategy for Amazon. More likely, it’s that someone else told them they should be selling their products on Amazon or their competitors are now on Amazon.

They are also worried. As the retail apocalypse accelerates, CPG owners and brand managers fear that fewer consumers will shop in brick-and-mortar stores. That means fewer people will discover their products on the shelves.

They know they have to quickly change marketing tactics, but the concept of selling on Amazon is daunting to them. It doesn’t help matters that, rightly or wrongly, Amazon is blamed for contributing to the retail apocalypse. 

Yet when I talk to these CPG manufacturers about their own shopping habits, I learn that they are regularly shopping on Amazon themselves. I point out that the brands they’re purchasing on Amazon took certain steps to get in front of them during the buying process. At the most fundamental level, selling on Amazon is just like selling through a physical retailer.

With that reframing, their mindsets begin to shift from dread to curiosity. They begin to wonder: Just what is possible through Amazon?

The truth is, Amazon is a game-changer for CPG brands.

The key is not to think of it as an “either/or” — as in you have to be on Amazon or you have to be selling through physical retailers.  Instead, think of selling on Amazon as an “and.”

Not only can you attract new customers through Amazon, but you can also use the platform to share your brand story in powerful ways that just weren’t possible before. This investment will, in turn, support your sales at brick-and-mortar stores.

Let’s break it down.

Setting Up Shop on Amazon

It’s a straightforward process for any brand, manufacturer or business owner to list and begin selling on Amazon.  All you need is a business name, verification of your address (via your bank statement) and verification of your identity.  You’ll then be able to create products and product listing pages, as well as set up your shipping to and from Amazon.

In a future post, we’ll talk more about how to get your product in front of your target customers. For now, you should know three things.

  1. Amazon’s internal SEO is catching up to the larger players in the marketplace rapidly, which is why well-written descriptions, images, and keyword-optimized titles are key.
  2. Investing in Amazon advertising is similar to paying for a traditional slotting fee at retail. Without this investment, your product has a relatively small chance of standing out unless your customers can find it through other platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
  3. Amazon users have a much higher intent to buy than if they found your product through Google.

The last one is particularly important. It means that when customers discover your product on Amazon, they are primed to make a purchase. That’s where your brand can shine.

Telling Your Brand Story on Amazon

Let’s say you’re selling bags of chips. As an Amazon seller, you’re getting people to your listing who are actually looking for a product like yours. They’ve typed in key phrases like chips, potato chips or bags of chips. You have people with a whetted appetite for exactly what you produce.

The minute they hit your Amazon page, you have the chance to sell to them in a way that just isn’t possible in packaging.  Forget the back of the box or the label. Now you can actually engage with them through different forms of content.

On Amazon, there are two main areas of content that any company can develop. First, you can create a store on the channel to merchandise and create an experience for consumers to navigate.  You can do something as simple as the Fossil Watch Store or more advanced like Steaz, which is one of my favorite looking stores.

The other option is either Enhanced Brand Content or A+ content, depending on what type of merchant you are.  For A+/EBC, I really like Fitbit and how they’ve merchandised the individual listing.

It’s important to invest as much as possible into photography and video to create a compelling and authentic experience for your brand.  Strong copy is also very essential for both sales and  Amazon SEO.

In addition to creating your own content, your customers can do the selling for you. That’s because Amazon allows users to ask questions about a product. Some of the questions the seller has to answer, but community members can answer many of them as well. This is in addition to the reviews community members also can post.

As with any kind of reviews, there can and will be negative ones (which you can address on the page). What’s important is that you can now leverage your super fans to sell your products. That’s just not an opportunity you have in retail.

Even if you invest in Instagram influencers, those people are being paid to tell your story. Do they actually love the products they post about? It’s unclear.

At least on Amazon, the potential buyer knows that a customer who left a review bought the product because it’s verified by Amazon. The review may include his comments and a photo of him with the product.  As a marketer, I think that’s a way more powerful investment to make.

Using Amazon to Drive In-Store Purchases

In a full-circle way, your Amazon presence creates credibility for the customer who may discover your product in a store and wants to learn more before making a purchase. There have been many times where I’ll discover a new product at Target and then pull up Amazon on my phone to check out the reviews before making a decision. I know I’m not alone.

Now, if you’re a smaller company, you may be thinking that you don’t have the resources to compete against the large CPG brands. There are many creative tactics to try, including leveraging highly targeted ads on Facebook and driving consumers directly to your Amazon store or listing. Having positive reviews on your Amazon profile will always work in your favor, no matter how small your marketing budget.

To be sure, doors are quickly closing in retail. Analysts say up to 12,000 stores may close in 2019 alone and as many could close in 2020. 

But in a time of crisis, there is always an opportunity to innovate. Due to Amazon, the opportunity for small and mid-sized CPG brands has never been greater to reach new customers and tell their powerful brand stories, effectively and authentically.

check out our articles

Shahira Marei

Creating Jobs One Cookie at a Time

Shahira Marei is the Founder and CEO of The Dirty Cookie, a gourmet dessert company renowned for its one-of-a-kind cookie shot glasses. The concept was …

Heather Terry

Heather K. Terry of GoodSam Foods Does CPG Right in a Changing Economy and Planet

Heather K. Terry is the Co-founder and CEO of GoodSam Foods, a sugar-free, equitable, and B-certified chocolate company that partners with global farmers. Her first …

Ayeshah Abuelhiga

How Ayeshah Abuelhiga Is Paving the Way for First-Generation Founders, One Meal at a Time

Ayeshah Abuelhiga is the Founder and CEO of the Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, a frozen biscuit brand committed to producing food made with fresh, clean, …

Scroll to Top