The Oprah Effect Endures, Giving Black-Owned Businesses on Amazon a Big Boost

She increased the sales rank of one product by 110,071%

oprah winfrey favorite things holiday list
Oprah Winfrey has once again demonstrated her enduring power as an influencer. Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Nine years after her syndicated talk show ended its 25-year run, Oprah Winfrey continues to wield enormous influence over consumer behavior.

Her annual list of Favorite Things, which highlights Black-owned businesses for 2020, has resulted in a huge sales lift on Amazon for most of the brands included, proving the phenomenon known as the Oprah Effect—which itself merited an hour-long CNBC special in 2009—is alive and well.

Look no further than the top 25 products on Winfrey’s list, which have seen an average boost of nearly 6,900% in their Best Seller Rank (BSR) on Amazon. That’s according to ecommerce analytics platform Profitero, which said one-third of the brands saw triple-digit or more growth in BSR in just a matter of days after the Nov. 9 reveal of her 2020 picks.

Profitero noted that higher sales on Amazon can also yield a bestseller badge, which helps set a brand even further apart from its competitors.

Brands on 2020 list already seeing huge gains

For example, the suede mules for men from Ubuntu Life—a lifestyle brand in Kenya that focuses on handmade shoes and accessories—saw a “massive uplift” 12,512% in BSR, per Profitero. Whereas Ubuntu Life’s products previously ranked between 2 millionth and 10 millionth (remember: Amazon sells over 500 million products, including goods from third-party sellers), the men’s shoes now have a BSR of 77,671.

But the biggest winner—at least so far—is the Everything Eiffel set from paint-by-numbers kit manufacturer Modern Monet, a brand returning to Oprah’s list for a second year. Profitero said Modern Monet has seen the largest spike in BSR, which, as of Nov. 13, was up 110,071%, taking one of its kits from a rank of 501,000 to 455 in the Home category.

Many of the Modern Monet kits have sold out on Amazon or are unavailable for delivery until just before Christmas. That being said, while Winfrey has partnered with Amazon on the list since 2015 and enjoys her own Favorite Things storefront on the platform, she noted in her magazine that shoppers can buy many of the featured products direct from the brands themselves—and offers 20% off with the promo code OPRAH for most (though they may not come with free two-day shipping).

A press release from Amazon called out some additional brands, which have also seen notable boosts. They include a body butter gift set from 54 Thrones, multicultural doll maker Fresh Dolls and diversity-focused children’s brand Puzzle Huddle.

It should come as no surprise Winfrey remains a tastemaker. In 2019, she was #3 on Gallup’s list of most-admired women behind Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. (Winfrey was tied with Hillary Clinton and Greta Thunberg.)

Her list of Favorite Things dates back to 1996 and is perhaps best known for inspiring shrieking crowds in her studio audience, along with that Oprah Effect sales bump.

Now, her power to inspire sales on Amazon proves the so-called Queen of All Media endures long after the last episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show aired in 2011. And while Winfrey’s magazine, O, will cease monthly print editions with its December 2020 issue—which will contain her 2020 Favorite Things—it will live on in digital form (and “at least four special print editions”).

And, of course, she will continue to run the Oprah Winfrey Network, where she hosts the inspirational daytime SuperSoul Sunday. She will also continue to host SiriusXM’s Oprah Winfrey Show, which has aired for more than 20 years, in addition to numerous other projects.


@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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