Amazon Prime Day: A Marketing Masterstroke and Boon for Smart Speakers

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Photo via Quick Meme – http://www.quickmeme.com/p/3w3k1t

By Bill Greenwood

Some people say Valentine’s Day is a holiday invented simply to sell greeting cards, but there’s no denying Amazon Prime Day is a holiday invented for the sole purpose of selling products on Amazon. And in 2017, the third-year event really seemed to catch on, with overall sales growing 60% from the previous Prime Day and more new members signing up for the Amazon Prime service than on any other day in its history, according to CNN Tech. In fact, it was Amazon’s biggest sales day ever, topping 2016’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers combined. It’s a massive triumph of marketing that should be taught in schools for years to come.

The other interesting news, though, is all about smart speakers, specifically Amazon’s Echo line. Seven times more Echo devices were sold on Prime Day 2017 than last year’s event, and the Echo Dot was the best-selling product globally from any manufacturer in any category, according to Business Insider. The product was discounted by $15 to $34.99, while the full-size Echo was on sale for 50% off at $89.99, enticing many of those on the fence about smart speakers to give them a try (me included).

While this is all fantastic news for Amazon, it’s also a huge development for technology enthusiasts. The exact number of Echo devices sold on Prime Day 2017 hasn’t been revealed, but it’s safe to say that the in-home penetration rate of smart speakers in general just jumped significantly. Prior to Prime Day, adoption was already in relatively good shape, with 1 in 10 U.S. households owning a smart speaker and 70.6% of those being Amazon Echo devices, according to data revealed during Jacobs Media’s July 12 webinar “Radio at Home: How New Technologies Are Changing Listeners’ Behaviors.” With Prime Day’s boost and the word of mouth sure to come as new buyers show off the device to their friends, we could see the same kind of rapid shift toward mainstream adoption that Spotify’s arrival in the U.S. kicked off for streaming music.

That’s an exciting prospect, as it would open up untold opportunities in the smart-home space. As we’ve seen in a variety of other industries, life-changing ideas don’t really start coming until enough people own the technology that makes them possible. Smartphones never really took off until 3G networks became the norm, and without them, we wouldn’t have ride-sharing services like Uber, mobile payment services like Venmo, or dominant music streaming services like Spotify. Years from now, we all might look back on Prime Day 2017 as a definitive moment in our increasingly Jetsons-like existence, and it’s all thanks to an ingenious marketing team who managed to dream up their own holiday. Hope somebody got a raise.

Edit: And just like that, a new study by Berg Insight forecasts that over half (55%) of North American homes will be smart homes by 2021. (“Berg Insight defines a smart home as a home with a system of internet-connected devices that are operated by a smartphone app or web portal.”) Sounds like the future will indeed be here sooner than you think!

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