Jul 18

Key Lessons Learned from the Top 5 Products on Amazon in 2018

Key Lessons Learned from the Top 5 Products on Amazon in 2018

Amazon is quickly becoming the #1 platform for food and beverage brands. The company’s acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017 and the creation of Prime Pantry and Prime Fresh may be some of the clearest evidence of that. In fact, with the help of Amazon product marketing, grocery was the fastest growing category on the platform in 2018.

While it’s difficult for smaller food brands to find shelf space in-store, they can now gain virtual space through Amazon. As consumers become more comfortable with buying groceries online, food and drink sales continue to rise in the U.S. and the U.K. But selling on Amazon isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Below, we’ve highlighted five lessons learned from 2018’s ‘Top 5 Best-Sellers’ list that will help inform your decision to sign up.

1. Beverages top the charts

Beverages dominated Amazon’s share of grocery sales in 2018. Water bottles have consistently ranked in the top 10 best-sellers. According to One Click Retail, in Q2 of 2018, coffee sales grew 40% to $135 million and coffee pods were four of Amazon’s top five best-selling grocery products that quarter. That said, competition between beverage brands is fierce. If you have a unique beverage with the potential to become a staple, you’ll want to give Amazon special consideration.  

Top products:

  • The Original Donut Shop Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods
  • Nespresso OriginalLine Capsules, Variety Pack Assortment (50-pack)

2. Make use of Amazon product marketing features

While Keurig K-Cup pods claimed two spots on the Top 10 list, Nespresso OriginalLine Capsules took first place. It turns out that being a major brand doesn’t guarantee a high ranking on the best-sellers list. So how did Nespresso get to the #1 spot despite Keurig dominating the U.S. market? Nespresso has surged ahead by using Amazon product marketing tools. First, they used the Amazon DSP or ‘demand-side platform’—a tool which allows sellers to programmatically buy display and video ads. While the ads directed customers to Nespresso’s own website, they were also visible to shoppers who purchased on the Amazon platform, therefore boosting overall sales 3X more than their projected goal. They then integrated customer reviews directly into ads to promote purchases. 

3. Snack foods are a top-seller

The third most popular category of food products sold on Amazon is ‘snack foods.’ Packaged products still dominate over fresh foods, largely because they’re shelf-stable and well-suited to Amazon’s warehousing and delivery process. Considering that more than half of Amazon shoppers are parents, it’s no surprise that they favor foods that can be purchased in bulk. These products offer the convenience of shopping less often, and make meal planning easier for families. 

Top products:

  • Quest Nutrition Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar 
  • Planter’s Nuts Variety Pack

4. Sales of healthy food products (especially those with protein) will continue to increase

Last May, CNBC reported that roughly 20% of Amazon Prime members were Whole Foods shoppers. This number is sure to continue increasing since Amazon made the move to purchase Whole Foods and slash prices on healthy products. Since 2018, Prime members have been incentivized with discounts on Whole Foods orders. Two of the top five best-sellers in 2018 were protein supplement products: 

  • Quest Nutrition Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar
  • Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder

The success of healthy products, and especially high-protein snacks, has been attributed in part to the popularity of new dieting trends like the Keto Diet. The Quest Nutrition Bar, for example, is a gluten-free, soy-free snack with 20 grams of protein. Quest’s protein bar is a top-seller for a few reasons. The preference for portable, healthy foods is on the rise. But CFO Nick Robinson says, Quest grew nearly 57,000% by focusing on content marketing. They began building an online community using 15 second Instagram recipe videos. They then bolstered their sales with the help of Google and Facebook ads. In order to ensure re-orders, Quest leverages email marketing and retargeting

5. Being an Amazon-exclusive brand doesn’t guarantee top sales

Amazon has encouraged sellers to create exclusive product lines to be sold only on their platform while Amazon continues creating new seller features that favor exclusivity. The number of exclusive brands on Amazon exploded in 2018, settling at around 150 by September. These product lines have the benefit of being marketed as ‘our brands’ on Amazon. That said, none of the five top-sellers listed here went this route. Quest Nutrition CFO Nick Robinson says he doesn’t shy away from partnering with a variety of etailers (for example, GNC) and Planter’s has sold peanut variety packs through E-bay, Walmart, Costco and others. So, while exclusivity may become the best sales strategy, it isn’t a prerequisite just yet. 

Amazon presents an exciting sales opportunity for food and beverage brands. While staple grocery items tend to top the charts as best-sellers, the list is quickly expanding to include more niche health products and other specialty foods. The key to success for food and beverage brands is to develop an Amazon product strategy suited to their particular offering. The best place to begin is with Amazon Advertising. If you’re not sure that you have the right content, check out our guide to Amazon content creation. Even new, unknown brands can top the charts when they invest in a long-term Amazon product marketing strategy.