Amazon’s Private Labels Overshadowing Other Brands

Amazon’s private labels are getting more popular, but it's coming at the expense of higher profile brands.

Just as companies like Nike and Adidas are getting used to officially selling their goods on Amazon, private labels could be taking their place.

New research from L2 on Amazon’s sales during the third quarter, when revenue grew 34 percent to $43.7 billion, found that the e-tailer’s continued preference for its expanding line of private-label brands is coming at the expense of brand partners, often selling goods at a higher price point.

“Amazon is becoming a frenemy to apparel brands,” L2 wrote in its report. “Sellers should expect fewer opportunities to leverage the e-tailer during periods of peak online shopping.”

During Amazon’s most recent Prime Day shopping event, for example, L2 found that private labels were given sustained “full-screen visibility” on Amazon’s landing page, upping the profile of its own apparel offerings and creating a surge in performance that has carried over in the months since. Meanwhile Dockers, which is owned by Levi Strauss & Co., began selling less, “suggesting the private-label brand is displacing legacy brands that offer similar men’s apparel assortments in terms of style and price,” according to L2.

L2’s performance metric uses a brand’s position on Amazon’s bestseller list as an indicator of unit sales.

But it’s not only Amazon’s private labels that are starting to outperform well-known brands. L2 found that Amazon’s activewear market is “largely driven by low-price purchases,” leading budget brand Icyzone to outperform Nike, Adidas and Under Armour in the performance apparel category during the third quarter.

Nike in particular hasn’t had a great deal of success since officially becoming an Amazon seller in July. L2 said its selling performance has dropped “well below leading brands” in the performance category.

“Legacy brands are lacking any meaningful defense on Amazon,” L2 wrote, noting that the e-tailer is expected to launch its own line of activewear “in the near future” as it’s already linked up with two suppliers.

Apparel is an undeniable a focus for Amazon, and the category is estimated to have grown 32 percent during the third quarter year-over-year. Its private women’s label Lark & Ro is also estimated to have reached nearly $10 million is sales since launching last year.

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