Grabbing a "prime" opportunity to kick off summer shopping, the affiliate channel competed with Amazon’s Prime Day, growing affiliate revenue 17% compared with last year’s Prime Day sales period, according to CJ Network data.
Prime Day-adjacent brand promotions—an affiliate strategy that started three years ago and that's seen sales growth each year—are proving to be a success for the affiliate channel.
Last year, Prime Day was held in October and drove early holiday shopping and high double-digit growth for many brands. This year, through a combination of site-wide promotion, product-level deals, cashback events, and consumer buying guides, affiliate marketers harnessed shoppers’ interest in Prime Day to drive engagement and sales and meet shopper’s changing needs.
More Apparel, Fewer Art Supplies
Affiliate’s Prime Day sales were dominated by purchases of shoes, electronics, and home goods—plus a strong spike in demand for women’s clothing signaling that apparel sales have revived after a pandemic-induced lag. Sales attributed to clothing brands in the network on Prime Day 2021 increased 31% compared to Prime Day 2020 and daily sales revenue in the clothing category on June 21-22 was up 12% compared to 14 days prior. High-end fashion retailers saw the benefits of Prime Day as well, with many European fashion resellers experiencing triple-digit growth and benefiting from affiliate channel promotions that reached the millions of people shopping online for Prime Day.
Product categories that were the highlights of Prime Day 2020 such as beauty, arts & crafts, and food & drink remained strong, but their growth was less robust than other categories. Compared to Prime Day 2020 (October 13-14), beauty product sales, for example, declined 10% while apparel sales increased 31%; sales of art supplies, while still high in volume, saw no growth when compared to the October event; and games and toys sales declined 49%. This is to be expected: Prime Day-adjacent affiliate promotions in Q4 will drive a slightly different sales mix than one at the start of summer. For example, this year’s Prime Day reached shoppers getting out of their houses more (in areas where pandemic restrictions have eased) and who need to refresh their wardrobes and shoe styles while also looking towards summer activities such as camping, beach stays, gardening, home decorating, and more.
To compete with Amazon’s product-level deals, publishers created buying guides, recommendations, and product highlights. Reviews and advice offered by content publishers helped these publishers grow their share of Prime Day sales overall—the share of sales driven by content publishers on Prime Day increased 13% compared to last Prime Day.
With increased cashback launched to coincide with Prime Day, incentive publishers' revenue was up 24% and actions by 5% with strong sales of computers, home goods, and electronics. Unlike the October Prime Day event, fewer promotions were released prior to Prime Day’s start and, thus, fewer shoppers were buying. Clicks in the two days prior to Prime Day decreased 19% compared to the October Prime Day and orders declined 12%. Yet on Prime Day clicks were up 2% overall and much of that growth was driven by content, mobile, and search publishers.
European luxury apparel sites selling designer women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories to worldwide shoppers were especially popular on Prime Day. Fashion influencers and shopping comparison sites were the biggest drivers of apparel sales and shoppers, increasing the network’s luxury apparel sales by 69% compared to Prime Day 2020. This performance, paired with strong sales of computers, home electronics, and smaller home goods shows that Prime Day is a growing opportunity for the affiliate channel in the European markets and beyond, especially as Amazon itself continues to invest in driving Prime Day sales in non-US markets.
Retailers in the sports, recreation, and home goods categories may have the greatest opportunity to invest in affiliate promotions related to Prime Day—they’re strong network categories and heavily researched items—and a sweet spot for the publishers that are successfully driving shoppers to purchase via the affiliate channel during Prime Day.