There’s an unexpected destination for the offbeat snacker where limited-time promotional snacks as well as discontinued cult-classic flavors find brand-new life: Amazon, the brand-new laboratory of the food world.
As brands throw products on Amazon to test demand as well as generate buzz, the platform has become littered with odd, limited-time promotional products, evolving into a paradise for enthusiasts of weird snacks unavailable in stores. Want nacho cheese Doritos in a bag with an audio jack in which can also play the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack? Available only on Amazon.
How about the fictional “Pepsi Perfect” product by Back to the Future Part II? PepsiCo made the soda a reality on Amazon in 2015 as well as — from the carefully crafted words of a spokesperson — This particular “sold out faster than we can say 1.21 gigawatts.”
as well as This particular year, Coca-Cola decided two classic products, Diet Coke Lime as well as Diet Coke Cherry, would likely spend their final days from the land of Amazon before they were eventually discontinued.
E-commerce is actually the next frontier for food companies, as evidenced by Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. although for currently, Amazon is actually tuned more for impulse-buying gimmicky junk food than weekly grocery shopping.
Consider, for instance, This particular summer’s newcomers to Amazon’s snack aisle: $25 boxes of Keebler Fudge Stripes cookies as well as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes in which come, inexplicably, with digital screens loaded with behind-the-scenes footage by the creating of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. These items were released on the heels of Doritos’ Jurassic World promotion on Amazon, which involved “seven flavors of specially marked Doritos with custom Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom packaging.” (A third-party Amazon seller is actually currently selling empty dino Dorito bags for $10, plus shipping. “This particular is actually a Doritos bag, not a bag of Doritos,” according to the description for the questionably collectible chip bag.)
When Alex Spivey heard Kellogg’s was selling only 100 boxes of Jurassic World Frosted Flakes, he immediately went to Amazon. “There was some element of FOMO driving the purchase,” he told BuzzFeed News. “In no practical sense was This particular worth $25. A box of sugar-coated corn flakes runs $4, as well as a ticket to see the entire movie This particular was promoting would likely only cost $15.”
This particular wasn’t the first such purchase for Spivey. “I have bought several of these odd food products on Amazon. The return of Surge Soda started off out on Amazon. I bought the anniversary/futuristic Pepsi bottle by Back To The Future Part 2 on Amazon. I may or may not still have a case of the Hi-C/Ghostbusters remake Discharge of Ecto-cooler in which was available exclusively on Amazon,” he said in an email.
Then he added, “This particular is actually somewhat of a moment of realization in which I may have an impulse control problem relating to movies as well as #Brands colliding.”
“Amazon is actually a great testing ground for brand-new innovation, as well as a Great way to capture demand for something niche as well as not worthy of widespread brick-as well as-mortar distribution,” said Keith Anderson, senior vice president of strategy as well as insights at e-commerce research company Profitero.
After all, grocery store shelf space is actually not only limited, This particular’s expensive: Manufacturers pay what’s called a slotting fee to have their products placed on in which valuable real estate. By having an online strategy, “you don’t need to displace something in which there’s more demand for on shelves,” Anderson said.
Even enthusiastic consumers like Spivey understand the limited market for these products. “If someone tried to stock $25 boxes of cereal across brick-as well as-mortar stores, I think This particular would likely be a hard sell,” he said. “I would likely imagine This particular’s much easier for a niche product like This particular to find its audience on Amazon.”
as well as any marketing buzz an online product generates is actually Great for a company overall. Vivek Sankaran, president as well as chief operating officer of Frito-Lay North America, said earlier This particular year, “We have been most pleased about how e-commerce has helped our overall brand building.” Online platforms also make This particular easier for giants like PepsiCo in which sell a broad array of products to promote their goods to customers during a transaction by recommending products.
At This particular early stage, the catalog of foods as well as beverages available on Amazon is actually nothing short of random. Coca-Cola resurrected its discontinued Surge soda on the platform in 2014 in response to an active Facebook fan page with 128,000 members calling for its return. Then, in a twist, Coke discovered by selling Surge on Amazon there was still enough demand for the long-dead beverage, discontinued in 2003, to warrant bringing This particular back to store shelves.
“in which’s an example of, how could the brand find their way back as well as test out the concept? When there’s an audience out there, although maybe retail wasn’t the best way to test This particular out,” said Darren Seifer, food as well as beverage analyst at market research firm NPD.
Surge’s resurgence was, according to Coca-Cola, the start of a brand-new era. “This particular may be only the first of a variety of efforts we explore to launch niche products through e-commerce relationships,” said Wendy Clark, president of sparkling brands as well as strategic marketing, Coca-Cola North America at the time.
Earlier This particular year, Coca-Cola’s general manager of e-commerce from the US, John Carroll, said, “We’re determining how e-commerce can build brands online before taking them to the next level.”
As food as well as beverage makers continue to try to figure out how to make the internet work for them, “the ultimate goal is actually to be omnipresent,” said Seifer.
different food companies have caught on to the power of Amazon to push out products in which aren’t quite worthy of a spot on the shelf, although may be fun enough to give their most devoted fans something to talk, tweet, as well as share about — as well as, of course, to buy.
In This particular way, Amazon has become a landfill for products in which have a heartbeat although are no longer in their heyday. This particular’s a place where niche products in which have a fanbase can live on without paying for expensive retail space, as well as where gimmicky movie tie-ins for chips as well as soda can thrive. Amazon joins eBay as an online destination for random, dopey consumerism. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Amazon is actually also a hotbed of experimentation for smaller food makers trying to reach customers who might otherwise overlook their products at the supermarket. Amazon’s list of top-selling foods makes a bizarre leaderboard where the typical stars produced by big manufacturers are replaced by second-tier competitors as well as newcomers, driven by the company’s algorithms as well as marketing programs. Amazon has become their incubator.
The hourly updated best-sellers list in Amazon’s grocery section, which is actually full of shelf-stable packaged goods in which hold up well for shipping, looked starkly different one afternoon in June when compared to top-selling products from the same categories at typical brick-as well as-mortar grocers. Number one was a bottle of organic protein powder by a company called Orgain; number four was chocolate-covered almonds by a brand called ChocZero. Amazon’s top snack bar at the moment: Rxbars.
By comparison, the top-selling protein powder from the US is actually Optimum Nutrition brand as well as the top-selling snack bar is actually General Mills’ Nature Valley, according to information provided to BuzzFeed News by market research company Euromonitor, which had no data on ChocZero.
Amazon is actually actively courting smaller brands to sell on the platform. Califia Farms, a more established plant milk company in which already competes in grocery stores with brands like Silk as well as Almond Breeze, also joined the Amazon Launchpad marketing program, which promotes “today’s brightest startups” to shoppers.
Greg Steltenpohl, cofounder as well as CEO of Califia, told BuzzFeed News in which while selling on Amazon can be simpler for brand-new companies because This particular’s one channel versus a bunch of different grocery chains, sellers also “have to be prepared for multiple layers of expenses in which have to do with getting products on Amazon. This particular’s not an inexpensive channel.” For instance, sellers can pay for prominent product placement, banner ads, or offering a discount to be included in Amazon Prime.
“You don’t have as many sales costs because your sales efforts are focused on Amazon, as well as there’s one person handling the business for you. although on the different hand, Amazon knows in which as well as they charge for some of those functions in different ways,” said Steltenpohl.
Food on Amazon may still seem more like a strange potluck than what you’d normally buy at the grocery store, although “the industry evolved very quickly as well as different niches will emerge, as well as there will be opportunity,” Steltenpohl said.
Maybe, to some shoppers, Amazon looks like a junk food landfill today. The CEO said, however, “If you embrace the level of change, maybe you’ll come out on top.”
Venessa Wong is actually a business reporter for BuzzFeed News as well as is actually based in brand-new York. Wong covers the food industry.
Contact Venessa Wong at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit This particular here.