Amazon Prime Day first launched on July 15th, 2015 to celebrate Amazon.com’s 20th anniversary. And even though Amazon Prime Day is merely six years old, it’s already become one of the biggest online shopping days of the entire year.
As you know, we love diving deep into our data to learn more about online shopping trends, and few events have been more interesting to us than Amazon Prime Day. An online shopping holiday built entirely around shopping on Amazon is sure to drive some particularly interesting trends. Particularly last year, as Prime Day was postponed from July to October as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We wanted to know: Which categories of items saw the biggest boost during Prime Day last year? Which ones actually saw demand fall off last year? What were the top categories during Prime Day? And did COVID-19 show up in the types of categories that did or did not do well during Prime Day?
We crunched the numbers, so keep reading while we seek to answer these questions and more.
With a near limitless supply of items available, visiting specific category pages on Amazon is an extremely popular way to browse for deals without getting overwhelmed. So we first decided to look at category pages that were the most popular on Amazon Prime Day last year:
Electronics, gadgets, and phones were extremely popular on Prime Day last year. Cell phone and accessories were the number category, while electronics accessories and supplies were number two. Electronics and cell phone accessories were also in the top ten.
Home goods and supplies were also quite popular. Home and kitchen was the third largest category while home improvement, health and household, and appliances were also all in the top ten.
But these are categories that we’d expect to be popular year-round. So next we took a look at the top ten categories on the day before Prime Day last year:
Cell phones and accessories were also the number one category on the day before Amazon Prime Day, but there’s still evidence that Prime Day did provide a significant boost to electronic and phone related categories. Electronic accessories and supplies was only the #5 category on the day before Prime Day, electronics was #10, and cell phone accessories weren’t in the top ten at all.
Home improvement actually dropped from the #2 category on the day before Prime Day to the #4 category on Prime Day itself. Health and household products dropped as well, as did beauty and personal care.
To more clearly illustrate how Prime Day impacted these top categories, here’s a side-by-side comparison showing demand for the top ten categories on Prime Day and how much demand those same categories received on the day before Prime Day:
Impressively, every category in the top ten saw at least a modest increase in demand on Prime Day. Cell phones and accessories, which was already the top category on the day before Prime Day, saw demand increase by 35% on Prime Day. For the most popular category on the website to receive a boost of that size underscores the power of Prime Day.
Even home improvement and health and household products, which dropped in their overall rankings, received at least a modest bump in demand on Prime Day. But the big winner in the top 10 categories was Electronics, which got a truly impressive 57% boost on Prime Day.
For reference, here’s the daily demand for some of these top categories for each day of 2020.
Cell phones and accessories take a significant and noticeable leap on Prime Day, but it’s actually Black Friday and the day after Christmas that represent the top days of the year for this category.
Even though cell phones and accessories is the top category on Prime Day, electronics is clearly the major category that benefits from the holiday the most.
Demand is remarkably stable for this category through the first three quarters of the year until Prime Day. The holiday is so huge for this category that it even dwarfs Black Friday.
Home and kitchen, meanwhile, shows a less dramatic, but still impressive increase in demand on Prime Day compared to the rest of the year:
The impact of Prime Day on home and kitchen categories amplifies as you drill deeper into specific subcategories. Particularly smaller kitchen appliances, like air fryers, for example.
Health and household products (which includes things like cleaning supplies, etc.), meanwhile, received no discernable bump on Amazon Prime Day.
Instead, it was the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic that provided a huge initial lift for that category.
Let’s drill deeper into a similar category and view daily demand for personal protective equipment and safety gear like masks and face shields:
Again, we see it was early pandemic scare moments that moved the needle for this category as well. However, it appears that Prime Day didn’t have a negative impact on either category, which suggests that people were doing additional shopping for luxury items on the holiday.
Daily views for other major categories reinforce this theory.
So while some categories may have seen their rankings drop during Prime Day, it wasn’t necessarily because fewer people than usual were browsing those major categories, but rather other categories received more additional traffic.
Naturally, this got us wondering, which categories received the biggest bump on Prime Day?
Let’s find out.
Again, we can’t underscore enough how significant it is for the top categories on all of Amazon to see demand rise to such a degree, but surely, some of the more niche categories got even bigger boosts, right?
Well, there was only one way for us to find out. We dug extra deep into our data by including the narrower, more specific categories and seeing which ones saw demand climb the highest on Prime Day:
In line with the broader trends we saw in the previous section, personal gadgets and kitchen appliances did quite well on Prime Day last year.
Running GPS units saw a 142% increase in demand on Prime Day, good for the largest increase in the categories included in our analysis.
Yogurt makers, digital picture frames, garage door openers, slow cookers, pet cameras, and suitcases all saw demand more than double on Prime Day. Other top ten categories included gadgets like handheld GPS units, sound bars, and memory cars, as well as home goods like dutch ovens and doorbells.
Here’s a daily view of some of the categories above to show just how much Prime Day moved the needle:
Browsing through categories is the “window shopping” version of shopping on Amazon, but what about people who visit the site with a very specific product in mind? What kind of impact does Prime Day have on specific queries?
Let’s start by examining the top ten queries on Amazon Prime Day last year:
Apple Watch was far and away the most popular search term on Prime Day. The remaining top terms also align well with the top categories we saw on Prime Day, including plenty of gadgets and home and kitchen items.
Interestingly, only one Amazon produced product — the Fire Stick — cracked the top ten, despite Amazon’s heavy promotion of their own products during the holiday.
Of course, many of these queries are for some of the most consistently popular items on the market. So let’s take a look at the top queries on the day before Prime Day for a baseline reference.
The top two queries on the day before Prime Day last year are almost certainly queries we wouldn’t expect to be the top two on the day before Prime Day this year.
“Halloween decorations” was the top query, unsurprising as Prime Day was postponed to mid-October. “Face mask,” as you might expect, was a top search term throughout much of last year. “Desk” was another popular query during 2020 as millions of Americans sought to improve their home offices during the pandemic.
You could argue, then, that Prime Day saw online shopping habits “return to normal” as popular pandemic and seasonal shopping terms fell out of the top ten and were replaced by standard pre-pandemic favorites.
Now let’s take a look at which search terms got the biggest boost on Prime Day:
“Lifestraw” saw the biggest leap up the rankings out of any term in our analysis, climbing from the #14,722 ranked query on October 12th all the way up to the 624rth most popular query on Prime Day.
“Under Armour” was another impressive climber, leaping from the 3,904th most popular term all the way to the top 150 terms.
Meanwhile, here were the queries who saw the biggest drops in popularity on Prime Day:
Here is where we really see mid-October’s influence, as people hit pause on watching halloween movies and shopping for halloween clothes in order to seek out Prime Day deals instead.
Our data shows that Amazon Prime Day has a clear and strong impact on how and what people shop for. People tend to browse for deals on electronics, gadgets, and home and kitchen supplies. They also seem to search after specific brand-name items in hopes to find a killer Prime Day deal.
2020 brought unique and unusual trends, with personal protective equipment and home office supplies rising in popularity, but those weren’t really the items people were seeking after on Prime Day. What kind of impact this might have, if any, on Prime Day this year remains to be seen. Stay tuned, as we’ll keep an eye on these trends throughout the rest of this year.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
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