10 Early Takeaways From Prime Day 2020

The pandemic has impacted some categories, but smart speakers and Instant Pots are as popular as ever

Amazon-recommended gifts were not among the products on sale during Day 1. Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

After a three-month delay, Amazon’s midsummer-turned-early fall sales bonanza is finally underway, assuming a new title as the unofficial start of the holiday season.

About 24 hours in, we’re seeing some familiar patterns as customers gravitate toward popular brands from years past. However, in other respects, consumer behavior has clearly been influenced by the pandemic as new products bubble to the surface. At the halfway point, here are the most notable trends from Prime Day 2020 so far:

Prime members were up early

According to Salesforce retail strategist Caila Schwartz, Prime Day orders began to accelerate starting at 5 a.m. EDT. In fact, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., order volume doubled compared to last year, then doubled again the following hour.

“This is impressive,” she tweeted with an exploding head emoji.

They’re averaging 2+ orders

EMarketer predicts U.S. consumers will spend nearly $6.2 billion over the course of the 48-hour sale. Unfortunately, the market research firm will not publish figures on actual spend until next year, so we don’t have an apples-to-apples figure on progress so far. However, as of 3 p.m. EDT, Numerator found 39% of participating households had already placed two or more orders with an average spend of $76.88.

Last year, Prime Day shoppers spent $6.9 billion worldwide, per eMarketer. With 175 million items purchased, that’s roughly an average item price of $39.43.

Amazon’s gift recommendations aren’t on sale yet

Amazon released its holiday guide on Oct. 5, offering up gift ideas in categories like small business, beauty, fashion, home, electronics and, of course, toys. But, with the exception of smart home products, most of the top gifts in the guide were not included among Prime Day promotions on Day 1, Profitero found.

Amazon is once again selling a lot of smart speakers

Electronics were an early hot category, which benefited Amazon itself as eight of the top 10 products were its own devices. Profitero attributed heavy promotions to the subsequent boost in sales rank of more than 10,000% for these products. Profitero also found personal electronics like Sony’s noise-canceling headphones were “stealing the show from traditional electronic products pushed this time of year, such as TVs.”

Prime members still love Instant Pots

So far, consumers have bought a lot of smart home devices, with top products including iRobot’s Roomba and categories like home security and smart speakers, according to Profitero.

Instant Pot, which was a best seller during Prime Day 2019, remained a popular product through day one, which the ecommerce platform attributed to an increase in consumers cooking at home this year. 2020 deals catapulted the appliance to the No. 2 spot in Kitchen on Oct. 13, which Profitero said was a boost in rank of 10,950%.

They bought a lot of DNA testing kits… for dogs

23andMe Health and Ancestry kits topped the list of most popular products in the U.S. for Prime Day 2019. This year, however, Prime members are buying dog DNA tests like Embark’s Breed Identification Kit, which Profitero said was the 10th most popular product in the Pet category on Oct. 13, jumping 16,760% in the rankings compared to the week before. The ecommerce platform said this is likely because of the rise in pet adoptions during the pandemic.

What constitutes “beauty” has changed

The pandemic has heavily influenced the beauty category as top deals are for essentials like digital thermometers and disposable masks, as well as self-care products like teeth whitening strips and hair products instead of more traditional fare like makeup.

Fashion remains a white whale

Amazon has made big moves in apparel this year, and Prime Day fashion is getting a boost from influencers. Profitero found some influencers are repeatedly recommending products from brands like Calvin Klein, Fossil and Levi’s.

“The promotion seems to be paying off, though, as all three have seen increases in Best Seller Rank on a number of products,” the ecommerce analytics platform added.

That includes Fossil’s touchscreen watch, which is up 656%, and Calvin Klein’s cotton bralette, which is up 716%.

Numerator, however, found 19% of shoppers were buying non-Amazon branded apparel and shoes—although the Amazon Essentials Women’s Studio Sculpt High Rise Legging was a top item as of 12 p.m. EDT, which aligns with trends we saw earlier this year in loungewear.

Toy deals remain to be seen

Profitero called toys a “category to watch” as deals had not yet materialized despite early promotion for brands like Nerf in Amazon’s own communications.

Funko and Lego are the toy brands with the most promotions so far, and as of 9 a.m. EDT, Funko had two of the top-ranked products in Toys, which were not previously ranked.

“We have noticed that some toys are seeing an increase in sales rank though that are not promoted, showing a halo effect for brands not participating in Prime Day but benefiting from the increase in traffic to Amazon,” Profitero added.

Other retailers still benefit from Prime Day

By now, shoppers have learned Prime Day is bigger than just Amazon. Schwartz noted that as of 7 a.m. EDT, online spending on non-Amazon sites was up 33% over the same hours in the first day of Prime Day 2019. It continued for the next few hours with same-site sales for non-Amazon sites up 70%. And as of 1 p.m. EDT Salesforce said it has seen sales for non-Amazon sites in the U.S. up 92% compared to the same time period for Prime Day in 2019.

According to RetailMeNot, more than 250 other retailers offered their own Prime Day-adjacent sales, which was on par with last year. The discounts site predicts more retailers will have offers on Wednesday.

Of Prime Day shoppers who shopped elsewhere, Numerator found 25% considered Walmart and 17% considered Target, while 9% considered a club store like Costco or Sam’s Club and 6% considered a Best Buy or a department store.


@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.
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