Trusting Amazon?

March 26, 2013by Ann Dencker

Is Amazon Taking Consumer Trust for Granted?

Amazon recently surpassed Apple in having the best reputation among corporations in the U.S. (based on Harris Interactive’s 14th annual poll results.) As a long-time fan of Amazon, I’m thrilled for them. As a frequent shopper on Amazon, I have to admit to being more than a little surprised.

Amazon’s shift to dynamic pricing last year has left me feeling betrayed. What drew me to Amazon was the feeling that they really wanted to help me find things I’d love and that I’d get whatever I love at a good (i.e. lower) price than I’d pay in a brick-and-mortar store.

Dynamic pricing leaves me with a feeling of buyer beware. If I wait until tomorrow, will the price be lower? If I don’t buy today, will I regret it? There are many published examples of what Amazon is doing. BHR tracked the price of one Xbox game during Thanksgiving week. The price of that game ranged from $49.96 to $24.99 to $15. MarketPlace (my favorite radio news program) also tracked prices during the holiday season and found large swings. For example, a Star Wars Blu-ray DVD set was $100 in October, dropped to $70 the week before Black Friday, jumped to $90 on Black Friday, then $134 the next day, then $84. A $64 swing in about a week seems excessive. Often the prices changed several times a day.

So, where does that leave me as a “long time fan”? A bit less of a fan and definitely more alert. I will also check prices on several competitive websites before I buy anything on Amazon. Wal-Mart and Target have benefited from this. Why wait a week for free shipping when I can get it tomorrow for the same price? Thanks for letting me know it’s out there Amazon, but I’ll just pick-it up at Target.

And, what does this mean to marketers? As a brand marketer, it’s important that your brand stay true to who it is, or more specifically, who consumers believe it to be. At the core of brand devotion is a feeling a trust. When a brand changes how they interact with consumers in a manner that feels one-sided (benefiting only the brand), they risk losing the devotion they’ve earned. Short-term that may pay off, but it rarely does long term.

Subscribe to Blogworthy
Stay fueled.

Sign up for Hiebing Marketing Fuel, our monthly newsletter, and we’ll send even more real-world inspiration and information straight to your inbox.