It's not the first time Amazon has set up shop across the virtual aisle from its partners. With the addition of skin care, the Seattle company now has 138 private labels. It might only be the beginning.
It's also one of the reasons investors should continue buy Amazon shares.
The motivation behind the skin care line Belei is revealed in the official press release. Amazon is looking to target its core demographic of busy, upper middle income female shoppers with products that address top of mind problems, while delivering great value.
The lineup ranges from $9 micellar facial wipes to $40 ferulic acid serum, with vitamins C and E. It's a set of products that tick plenty of boxes. And none of it is by accident.
At its core, Amazon.com is a data business. The company has been carefully collecting every page view, every order and product search its customers make. This information is as voluminous as it is valuable. The company has its finger on the pulse of online shopping. It knows exactly what customers want, and how much they're willing to pay for it.
It's really an unfair advantage over retailers struggling with hit-or-miss miss product development, or seat-of-the-pants entrepreneurship.
This luxury has caught the attention of politicos. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for U.S. president who is pushing legislation that would break up Amazon and other large technology firms that control marketplaces while competing directly with sellers.
Her case against Amazon is compelling. But it's probably not going anywhere.
Quite simply, Belei, and other Amazon.com private label products have not harmed consumers -- at least not yet. Right now, they provide more choice at compelling price points.
The larger benefit to Amazon shareholders stems from the dominance of its platform. Its private -label products water down the categories. Scott Galloway, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, makes the cogent argument the company is intentionally changing the way consumers think about brands.
Galloway asserts consumers are beginning to shop for stuff, not brands. They search for batteries, not Duracell, for example. And when they do attach a brand to their search, Amazon.com algorithms put a virtual thumb on the scale to make certain its brands show up, too, according to reporting from the New York Times. It's no wonder the Amazon Basics is by far the best selling battery online.
This advantage will only accelerate as more people use Alexa, its popular voice assistant, to stock up on common household items.
Despite all of the scrutiny, Amazon's managers are not slowing down. They are ramping up the launch of private label goods. They are building businesses, informed by platform data, to compete head to head with partners.
Last October, the firm brazenly launched an accelerator program to create more new private label brands. This comes following a ninefold increase in its number of brands since 2016.
Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey, an investment research firm, estimates Amazon's private labels will generate $25 billion in sales by 2022, up from only $7.5 billion in 2018, the Times notes.
Amazon shares trade at 45x forward earnings. The market capitalization has swollen to $870 billion. These numbers are not cheap. However, this is one of the greatest businesses ever created. It's using its data hoard to enter entirely new businesses. It's exploiting platform advantages to ensure those fledgling enterprises succeed.
Its shares are a buy on any weakness over the next few years.
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