Amazon Prime: Less Than Meets the Eye

Today was the day Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary by throwing a massive, one-day sale they dubbed Amazon Prime Day. The online retailer had touted this sale to rival that of Black Friday, but those of us itching for a good deal were left underwhelmed.

As the day progressed, I watched as my friends and coworkers reacted to the items on sale. One friend told me about a TV on sale for $700 ($200 off the retail price) which was actually last year’s model. However this year’s model was only $200 more than the retail price and was a far superior unit. Another friend had commented, “Prime Day was just the day Amazon cleaned out its junk drawer.” That statement pretty much summed up the opinions of people I spoke to about the sale and given what I saw I couldn’t disagree.

Amazon Prime Day Home Page

The more I watched it the more I felt Prime Day was a great example of the “False Sense of Urgency” marketing tactic. Using this tactic you try to convince the consumer that they need to quickly buy a product due to either a limited quantity or time in which they can purchase it. Prime Day combined both since you had sales for a short amount of time with a low amount in stock. Luckily I was immune from the marketing trickery since I’m currently trying to restore my rainy day fund.

Good Guy Amazon Meme

I got home late this evening and jumped on Reddit for some light reading before bed. There were several threads all echoing the disappointment I had heard from friends earlier today. One of the top comments so far is from /r/W3RF who said, “I tried to score 4 different SD cards, but they sold out within 5 seconds. I ended up with a chefs hat for $4.” Another user joked, “I don’t know why they’re calling it ‘Prime Day’ since 15 isn’t even a prime number!” True. Fifteen is actually a composite number and, having said that, I wish Amazon had composited a better sale.

Despite our collective criticisms, I’m sure Amazon will call the day a success. Perhaps they will have succeeded financially, or in some way we’re currently unaware of, but as far as their marketing goes I’d say it failed. Amazon Prime Day didn’t feel like Black Friday at all. It felt like the days following Black Friday when all the good stuff you wanted is gone. Sure you wanted that 65” OLED 4K Smart TV but you got yourself a hairdryer and that’s fine… small wins matter.