Over the last few years, Amazon has been gradually positioning itself as a key retailer for summer brands. When Amazon celebrated the first “Prime Day” in 2015, they established one of the biggest eCommerce days of the year and the single largest online sales event of the summer season. Since then, several major U.S. outdoors chains have gone out of business while Amazon’s sales in this space continued to grow rapidly. Americans were increasingly embracing (and investing in) outdoor activities and Amazon was able to capture largest share of these consumers.

Today, Amazon’s sales of outdoor goods – including Lawn & Garden, Camping & Hiking, Water Sports and Grilling – have begun to stabilize with YoY growth rates in most categories settling into the teens. But while consumers embraced Amazon as their go-to retailer for outdoor goods, most summer brands lagged behind the changing habits of their target audience, still investing primarily in brick-and-mortar stores which increasingly sat empty. The brands that recognized this shift sooner rather than later were able to reach the most customers on Amazon and most of these early adopters are still the leading brands in their respective categories. Since today is officially the first day of summer, we’ve taken a closer look at the brands most likely to “win” this summer season and the strategies that have made them so successful on Amazon.

Summer Brands: The Amazon Effect

 

Grills consistently rank among the top outdoor items. As a relatively narrow category, Grilling is not one of the largest categories overall (worth an estimated $300M in annual 1P sales), but it’s dominated by a handful of high-value, high-performing items which are typically among the bestselling outdoor products.

The established top Grilling brands on Amazon are Weber and Blackstone, both long-time category leaders. In 2017, Weber was the larger of the two brands but Blackstone supplied the top item in the category, a 36-inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill Griddle Station. However, this spring the Blackstone grill had a number of availability issues and during these out of stock periods, a large share of the sales that might have gone to Blackstone went to Weber instead. This contributed to a rapid increase in sales for Weber at the beginning of the summer season which continues to outpace the competition today.

Weber’s success is also driven by the completeness of the brand’s product pages. An outdoor grill is a high-consideration item, so consumers tend to spend more time on specific research. The leading grill (Weber Spirit E310 Liquid Propane Gas Grill) includes succinct, specific bullet points reviewing all of the initial specs a buyer is likely to look for – including size, cooking area, heat output, and ignition system details – and then supplements that content with an informational video. Weber has produced these videos for all of their major grills in order to account for the additional information needed for shoppers to make a purchase decision. The videos, which showcase details on major features that purchasers are interested in, make product research as easy as possible and thus maximize conversion.

Summer Brands: The Amazon Effect

 

 

Swimwear is a major summer apparel category on Amazon. The category is dominated by Kanu but is fragmented into the Men’s and Women’s subcategories.

Men’s Swimwear is dominated by first-party (1P) sellers and focuses on reliable, low-budget basics in neutral colors. Kanu is responsible for over $10M of the estimated $15M 1P sales in this category, led by the Kanu Surf Men’s Barracuda Trunk, most popular in Charcoal grey.

Kanu also leads in Women’s Swimwear, but only controls about 9% of the market (compared to 70% in the Men’s category). The Women’s category is much larger overall, with 1P sales worth an estimated $40M and 3P sellers having a much larger impact. As Women’s Swimwear is driven by fashion and individuality, 3P vendors are able to flouring by providing unique, varied options, and have therefore contributed the majority of bestselling items.

 

Summer Brands: The Amazon Effect

 

Water Sports – including surfing gear, kayaks, boat towables, and similar products – is dominated by the Airhead Sports Group which manufactures the Airhead and SportsStuff brands. In this category, worth an estimated $90M in 1P sales, Airhead controls about 16% of the market.

This is another example of a brand that entered Amazon early and has maintained their category leadership as the retailer grew. Airhead’s top item is the SportsStuff Super Mable Towable Tube, which has been available as a first-party ASIN on Amazon for over 5 years. The brand secures its hold on the market by strictly maintaining in-stock rates – the rare instances that the leading item has gone out of stock have all been during the off-season and have therefore had a minimal effect on sales.

Summer Brands: The Amazon Effect

 

In 2017, the Outdoor Power Tools/Equipment category grew very rapidly. One of the brands benefitting the most from this growth is Greenworks, the largest 1P Lawn Care brand on Amazon. Greenworks is a digital native brand specializing in innovative electric mowers and equipment designed to be more convenient and eco-friendly than competitive products.

Greenworks markets specifically to a millennial audience with strategic use of promotions. On April 22, the brand held a Deal-of-the-Day promotion offering 40% off of their 40V Twin Force Cordless Lawn Mower, which was their top-selling item in 2017. This promotion, strategically timed to coincide with the beginning of the summer shopping season, has generated a lift in sales allowing Greenworks to outpace the rest of the category by far.

Summer Brands: The Amazon Effect

 

 

Sunscreens & Tanning Products, worth an estimated $65M in 1P sales, is also dominated by a long-established brand committed to its ASINs. Neutrogena leads the category with their Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, which holds the Amazon’s Choice tag and maintains a market share of 16%.

This category nearly doubled in size last year, driven by a large number of smaller brands entering the market. Most other leading brands lost some of their share to these new competitors, but Neutrogena was the exception and is on track to dominate the category again this summer season. Neutrogena’s success is driven by a strong review strategy – the bestselling sunscreen has been available on Amazon for over 5 years and has collected over 2,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 stars. By committing to its ASINs, the brand has been able to accumulate high quality reviews which are then rated as such my other consumers. For example, this item has a 5-star review from 2013 which has been voted as helpful by over 400 other shopper and as a result appears at the top of the reviews section, resulting in even greater consumer trust and conversion.

 

 

Today’s summer shopping trends are driven by Amazon. The same consumers that are embracing a more “outdoors” lifestyle are doing more of their shopping online than ever – and Amazon is their one-stop-shop of choice.  The most successful summer brands have established and maintained their category leadership by investing in Amazon, committing to their ASINs, and marketing strategically to the modern online shopper. Brands that compete effectively on Amazon will continue to benefit from the retailer’s growing market share and the loyalty of Amazon’s customers.

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