If any retail store has an end-cap product placement of an item that they are featuring, everyone presumes it is because it is a profit maximizer for them. Why is it presumed that Amazon must be a more impartial arbiter of quality versus traditional brick and mortar retail? In part it is because Amazon is a marketplace, but both are middlemen (except for private label products from your grocery store or Walmart/target).
Overall, I agree that this isn’t a huge surprise, but I think the fact that Amazon has data on things like returns, ratings, reviews, makes it totally understandable why someone would assume a “choice” product was chosen because of those factors and not because the company paid to be featured.
An employee isn't going to give you an objective honest answer or they would tell you walmart has it for cheaper.
Case in point, literally a brick and mortar store with "<store name>'s Choice" as the slogan, to market a brand created by a third party company: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam%27s_Choice
In a physical store, I have ignored the end cap because the product was visibly a smaller volume than a competitor at a similar price. I can also go to the aisle section and directly compare all the options the store presents vs products filtered down and advertised to me by Amazon's algorithms. There is bias but more transparency like bottom shelf vs eye level. Amazon is a black hole unless you still trust their review system.
Amazon’s approach is micro optimized to make money today at the cost of customer satisfaction, a long term losing strategy.
PS: It might just be my circle of friends, but many Amazon early adopters have mostly moved on. That opening the box and wondering how you where screwed this time feeling is a major issue for the company.
-Sam Walton said "We should have a private label soda program. Loblaw in Canada has President's Choice."
-Category manager of Soda floats this to potential suppliers.
-Cott Beverage says "Hey, we'll do it. How 'bout we call it 'Sam's Choice'?"
-Category manager of Soda says "Great! I'll tell Sam." (or more likely, the VP of Grocery/Merchandising)
-Sam Walton says "Great Job! Sam's Choice, nice touch. That's my name!"
Generally speaking, these copackers do not pay the retailers to get into their store, because the retailer is paying them for these products, and the retailer is possibly sourcing at least the packaging if not the development on their own. Whereas Amazon acts as a platform, retailers actually purchase and take possession of the product that they have had some hand in creating. Essentially, PL (private label) products start much further back in the supply chain. By the time they reach store shelves (even by the time they reach the warehouse), the supplier has already made their profit. You would rarely if ever have a brand in a store that gets upgraded (or downgraded depending on the power of the retailer's brand) to private label due to sales considerations or lobbying on the copacker's part. If anything, the retailer might take on lesser known brands the copacker is trying to promote as part of their sales agreement, even though they could be the same exact product that is in the retailer's branded packaging.
Speaking to Sam's Choice specifically, as it relates to Amazon's Choice:
- Sam's Choice is only tied implicitly to its retailer (at least as far as Walmart is concerned, at Sam's Club I'm sure the connection is far clearer). You need knowledge about the organization (or to read the packaging) to understand that this is a private label product. Amazon's Choice is much more explicit.
- Amazon's Choice is a designation more than a brand. As far as I know, the products retain their own branding and identity. Most customers understand that private label products are not manufactured by the retailers themselves, but if you want to find out that Sams' Choice (and much of the private label soda and soda adjacent products category in the majority of food retail) is actually manufactured by Cott Beverage, you need to do some research.
- The idea that Sam's Choice was "created" by Cott is kind of strange, though I can't dispute it directly. PL brands like Sam's Choice (and Great Value, Walmart's other PL brand) are owned by the retailer and usually entail working across multiple categories, which means working with multiple suppliers. It's possible that "Sam's Choice" the brand was created early enough during the evolution of the PL ecosystem that Cott coined the name of the brand (even though its almost a complete copy of President's Choice, the PL brand of the Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw), but to consider a PL product a "third party" product is very strange to me. Cott doesn't have any claim to Sam's Choice products that are produced in non-beverage categories.
That just seems naive.
I have been completely incorrect on my interpretation of Amazon's Choice.
Historically when I searched for something, I've often find a product in the results with 80-90% of the features I'm looking for. That result was often listed as Amazon's Choice, so I built it up in my mind to mean "users of Amazon mostly get this one" I was fine with that because, like I said, it usually wouldn't fit the criteria exactly, but it was 80-90% of the way there so it made sense to me that it would be the choice of most people, but not all.
Pedantically, it isn't a lie if it isn't objective and measurable. It's an opinion, and opinions are not lies.
As for "Amazon's Choice", it's literally true. Amazon chose it. They make no representation as to why they chose it.
I'm a tech savvy 30-something cynic, too. Think about how it would fool others.
If the name of the product or brand line was "Amazon's Choice" then I would consider it branding. But when used as a designation, I expect more.
And that's in no way scandalous?
And this is just accepted. Ridiculous.
I mean, I guess it's OK to be outraged about this. But doing it specifically about Amazon seems maybe a little unobjective.
I will almost subconsciously assign a negative mark to companies who aggressively market, and a positive mark to those I deem authentic (spoiler, very few). I'm at the point now that I'm saving a ton of money because I'm simply turned off by the hard sell. It's like when you immediately close a tab on an article you were about to read because 4 different "Join our newsletter" modals slid in. I'm guessing I'm not the only one (but maybe one of few?). Is it possible that marketing practices have gotten so out of hand that they are very gradually nudging consumers away from what they're selling?
Anyone know if marketers talk about this sort of backlash at w/e conventions they have, or is it just push push push. The data must identify at least a hint of a negative trend right? How long until there are "authenticity consultants"?
At least in the EU that's blatantly illegal.
Yet Amazon charges for the 'Choice' wording without disclosing the financial side. And they are making way more, and therefore can be way more biased, than the mommy blogger who gets fined a few grand for not disclosing her endorsements.
More than just the monopoly situation, the extreme disparity in enforcement of rules, and the amount of fines as a percentage of yearly income, is quite galling.
Disclosure should apply across the board. I personally don't even agree with the disclosure rule, but if it's there, it should be for everyone under the same standard. That's actually literally the whole basis of the concept of rule of law.
I've been under the impression that the ethical ones do, the rest don't.
In the US, it falls under the FTC.
> Does the FTC hold bloggers to a higher standard than reviewers for traditional media outlets?
> No. The FTC Act applies across the board. The issue is – and always has been – whether the audience understands the reviewer’s relationship to the company whose products are being recommended.
> If the audience understands the relationship, a disclosure isn’t needed
Surely the audience understands Amazon's relationship with... Amazon.
The FTC has a clear standard: Would the average person know that an endorsement was done for money.
Amazon's relationship... with is with it's sellers... is literally the topic of this whole post. I'm really not sure why you are bringing this up (amazon sometimes choosing it's own), other than to subtly defend something clear by muddling the waters.
To be clear: if I asked the average person whether an 'amazon preferred' product was a paid endorsement by the brand owner to amazon in the form of cash and revenue sharing... I'm sure they would say: "No, we didn't know that as being obvious'. That's the standard mommy bloggers are held to.
The thing is, Amazon will present the flimsy argument you brought up with a team of lawyers. The mommy blogger will just take the fine.
If you haven't dealt with the FTC, and seen the dirty sausage machine up close, I'd suggest you look into it before continuing on defending them.
It's not their fault that you ascribe weird motives instead of the obvious.
It's not their fault that you ascribe weird motives instead of the obvious."
See? It works both ways. The FTC doesn't allow this argument from Mommy blogger; it isn't applied evenly. I'll remind you that one of the higher ideals of the US is the rule of law.
BTW, I'm not ascribing anything, this is about FTC standards. If you don't know what fines the FTC puts out, I'd kindly suggest you research before further 'theory commenting'.
Amazon has tons of little “ha ha tricked you” ways of making more money these days.
Next time you but an N-pack of anything on Amazon - more often than not the pack costs more per unit.. thats not how economy of scale is supposed to work right?
I spent my first 7 years out of college building business intelligence software for grocery retailers. My guess is that when it happens, it's a f-up rather than something nefarious. Especially with Amazon, whose seller interface is pretty much user-hostile.
64oz Store brand half and half: $3.50 (avg range $3.25-3.68)
32oz Store brand half and half: $1.50 (avg range $1.25-1.68)
Having spent time inside a number of industries, I think there's a huge difference between insider knowledge and general-public knowledge. I'd guess that the average shopper would think something ends up more visible because it's something shoppers buy more frequently.
Also, the notion that X is terrible does not justify Y being also terrible. Do people object more to new or newly-revealed terribleness? Yes. Is that a reason not to take their objections seriously? Not at all.
This is completely true for most retailers. In particular for in person sales where people can straight assume they are getting bullshitted to close the sale.
The disconnect comes from amazon’s relentless push for customer satisfaction, clear labeling of the promoted and sponsored entries, separation between popular choices and well rated products etc.
That’s a corner of shadiness where we don’t expect it, which ends in a shock.
What looks unethical / abuse of monopoly-ish here is - you (business) something else completely unrelated, like ads or whatever, and in exchange they get an unrelated "Amazon's choice" tag.
It feels similar to a kickback/bribe.
With that disproven, those same people (presumably the ones who were most trusting of Amazon) now have been bitten and are forced to reevaluate Amazon's honesty and Amazon's reputability. I imagine those upvoting this topic are the very 10-15% who find this behavior shocking and potentially self-destructive of amazon.
A consumer has every right to feel outrage over intentional unethical behavior from a company. Similar deceit by other companies doesn't excuse this, nor does it mean the shopper's repulsion is invalid.
I still use it a lot, because I'm almost always happy with what I get with those expectations. But it surprises me when people talk about it like some sort of heavily-curated marketplace.
Even so, it sounds like they haven't done what the title describes for a couple of years. FTA: "An agency source said that while this bidding program ran briefly in 2017, Amazon rolled it back and Amazon’s Choice badges are now driven by Amazon’s algorithms."
i don't see anything wrong with this. Essentially, if multiple products in a category are all good enough to be recommended, amazon was selling the featured slot instead of picking one of the contenders randomly. They weren't selling the featured slot to undeserving products.
Unless the product is failing in catastrophic ways that inspire loads of pissed off customers, 3 stars is the new 0 stars and be suspicious of anything with a high number of reviews. High review count means the seller had to stuff the ballot box to make up for lower score real reviews or a fake review battle with a competitor.
My latest way of weeding out the more egregious fakes (in addition to ReviewMeta and FakeSpot) is to look for customer pics that are either just pictures of the box, item not being used, or, to a lesser extent, promo styled (nice lighting and odd angles). Also, a quick scan of early reviews to see if there were more low ratings or mentions of a completely different product. Some sellers will pay for or get legit good reviews on an item, then swap the item number to a new item in the same category. Same goes for having multiple very different items in one listing as purchase options (4 options for a keyboard - red color, blue color, travel mouse, fishing lure set).
(Though seriously, if anyone has a recommendation of a decent product to charge an iPhone and allow audio out at the same time, please post it)
Headphone Adapter for iPhone 8 Adapter AUX Audio Jack Adapter for iPhone X Dongle Splitter [Audio+Charge+Volume Control+Call ] Dual Earphone Cable Converter for iPhone XR/XS/7 Plus Support iOS 13
It's got an Amazon Choice badge, but most of the reviews appear to be for a workout/fitness band and a dice bag.
Here's the archive of my search results page for those terms. It's interesting to note the ARCHIVE IS NOT WHAT I SEE outside of the archive. I see the VNKSUG item first, and I don't see the AmazonBasics cables at all.
"Amazon's choice" is always going to be about what's best for amazon. that can either be some opaque criteria that the sellers can try to game, or amazon can just be honest about it and sell that spot instead of giving it to whatever seller cheats the best. I trust that the "amazon's choice" listing for any search is good enough, and not defective or fraudulent. beyond that i'm either going to do my own research if it's something i really care about, or i'm going to buy amazon's choice if i decide that i don't really care and i value not having to think about it.
That's the expected cut. It's not extra at all.
The extra cut here is giving someone else a kickback and you get exactly zero value for those extra dollars.
One of the big problems with e-commerce is trust, and I could easily see some bright spark at Amazon saying, "What if we did extensive testing, found the best-value item in each category, and gave it our blessing? We could reduce decision fatigue, increase revenue, and strengthen our customer bond."
We see Wirecutter out there making good money on doing exactly that, so it's not crazy to think Amazon would just do that themselves.
Wirecutter sometimes recommends (on commission!) products in categories they specifically recommend against buying, like SFF PCs!
Is that supposed to be a bad thing? Listing the best of the category, while also rating the category as a whole, means they're going above and beyond on what their job is! It's not a moral failing that their recommendations come with the context of "inside the category", that much should be obvious. And they can't tell you which products are """objectively""" worth your money, either.
"We said it was Amazon's choice, not the editor's choice. But here's a 5 dollar credit - we value your feedback at Amazon."
And its exact value is $5!
Not really. What's the point of this post, are you looking for someone to pat you on the back and tell you well done?
Nowhere in that article is Amazon's choice mentioned.
Amazon has always taken a pretty libertarian stance on selling books. It's been a dilemma for the company since inception. What is and isn't okay to sell.
I agree there should be some moderation, but I don't see anything wrong with the article you posted.
read the reviews instead.
Everything is some sort of hustle. Companies pay for reviews. Reviewers often have no idea how to use the product. All you can really do is be ready to throw what you get in the trash if you don't like it.
Are you kidding? I buy from Amazon specifically because returns and refunds are so easy.
That said, I've never bought higher value items from third parties via Amazon, so that may be a different experience. But I basically treat non-fulfilled by Amazon as eBay in terms of trust/expectations.
To be clear, I'm not 'taking advantage' like buying something I need to use once and then returning it out whatever - I just appreciate that if the item arrives broken, or not as described/fit for purpose that I can return it with minimal hassle.
But it just didn't work, because of something about the way the tube joined the body of the pump. It didn't look like a manufacturing variation, but a design flaw.
I returned the pump and paid more for the more expensive one, which worked fine.
A lack of one star reviews (like 100% five star reviews seen in some products) point to obvious manipulation and should also serve as a red flag.
I should have said: read the reviews and use your head (d'oh!)
I have ordered a few memory cards from Amazon by now in Europe, and I've never had issues with them. I don't think I have ever received a fake item from Amazon. Not where I've noticed it anyway.
I build custom video setups as hobby so I say overall probably I got over 150 cards from Amazon (at least half were fake) and some 100 from Newegg so far (last 3 years) and haven't had a single fake from Newegg. [mostly I use Sandisk and Lennar cards]
I have started to consider stores as “immediate delivery” over the two-ish day delivery of Amazon, and it has really helped me leave the Amazon machine. I never really needed all the impulse purchases from Amazon, and more standard purchases are far more convenient than any subscription or Dash purchase could ever be. And if the item is a dollar or two more? Oh, well; if I could upgrade my two-day shipping to “get it in 20 minutes” shipping for $2 more, then I’d probably do it.
You might have a different experience or a wider range of purchase history than me, but unsubscribing from Amazon Prime and driving to the store was a great choice for my shopping needs.