In all of the recent hubbub of coverage amounting from the New York Times’ expose of how Amazon works, one aspect I haven’t seen much comment on is how all of this comment might actually be in Amazon’s interest. The “revelations” shouldn’t come as any great surprise to anyone – especially anyone who has read Brad Stone’s excellent book on the company The Everything Store. But think for a moment about Amazon’s brand promise – great prices and quick, efficient, reliable service – and then ask yourself if any of the “bastard place to work” stuff really negatively impacts them?
After all, if you are going to get great prices and quick, efficient service, that’s got to be driven by something. And if that something is along the lines of “their staff to breaking point”, then surely there are many ways the NYT story reinforces that promise. Amazon’s rapacious efforts don’t include anything about being nice.
This kind of negative brand reinforcement is something that my friend and former colleague Tony Phillips describes in the context of the model Kate Moss. Moss over the years has had numerous press revelations about her somewhat tawdry and drug-fuelled social life. The sorts of revelations that would have done away with most politicians or business leaders (although Jeremy Corbyn announcing a drug-fuelled relationship with Libertines frontman Pete Doherty might clinch the former the Labour Leadership and the latter a number one album with the band’s new release…).
But for Kate, “heroine chic” and scuzzy rock stars made her brand more desirable to the sorts of brands that wanted to associate with her.
And so it is with Amazon. Those who already have a moral stand against them will feel reinforced; some who are on the cusp may be pushed over the edge to boycott; but for the majority my hunch is that nasty, ball-breaking management at Amazon probably reinforces the idea in many customer’s minds that they are getting a good deal when shopping with the online behemoth…
Tony and I will be exploring ideas of brand and marketing in the very un-Kate Moss context of the IT Department at this years CIO Summit on September 23rd in London. More details here.