The Amazon Effect

Companies will sink or swim based on their ability to continue to move further away from the competition, most often by creating new market categories or exploiting whitespace in the industry.

To date, Amazon has been a leader in this strategy, creating new demand and revolutionizing the way the retail industry works, effectively destroying the brick-and-mortar paradigm. What they have done is not a paradigm shift, but a paradigm decimation.

Each week brings news of another retailer shuttering storefronts and shifting to a digital only presence or, worse, filing for bankruptcy and scrambling to survive. Commentary and public opinion are mixed on the long-term effect on the retail industry.

Some praise the ‘Amazon Effect’ as a means of pushing retailers to modernize and become more competitive on price and product range. Critics bemoan it as the death of retail industry, questioning what it means for product quality and truth in advertising when you can’t touch or feel something before you buy it.

Adding to the confusion, Amazon’s foray into its own brick-and-mortar storefronts is popping up across the world as we speak. The difference is that Amazon brings additional value to their stores by making the experience more customer friendly and focused.

I’ve had the opportunity to go to an Amazon Books store and my experience was quite positive. The stores take some customer-favorite features, like reviews and customer ratings, and bring them to life in an in-person experience. In store, only books rated 4-stars or better are available, meaning you can feel confident in your purchase.

What’s powering all this? Amazon’s ability to take big data and use it in stores to curate products that they know will resonate for markets and consumers and drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Amazon’s latest move – their proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, Inc – has commentators and industry and armchair experts speculating on Amazon’s motivates and future plans, and what this means for the future of another market, the grocery industry.

Personally, I’m hoping this move will result in better pricing and selection, as well as customization and personalization of the experience. Also, I’d be very happy to have my Whole Foods order dropped by Drone onto my front porch. This idea seems like just a dream, but the truth is that drone delivery isn’t that far-fetched.

About Merit

Merit is the global leader in market invention. More often than not, our work carves out an entirely new market and transforms industry through research and strategy, communications, creative, and technology. For a company to succeed in the new era of marketing, it needs Merit.

See More



Public Relations and Market Invention

“We need public relations!” We hear this command frequently from big and small organizations across the country. However, we promptly question what exactly they’re seeking. Every organization needs a smart PR strategy, but most don’t know exactly how.

Video and Market Invention

You’ve probably heard of Market Invention, the strategic process of creating new markets through a shift in audience, category, channel, or branding. It’s the discipline behind disruption, and it rests on good communication. That’s where video comes in.


Web Design and Market Invention

Web designers are the architects that create the visual elements of the site, the stuff the user sees. Web developers create the functionality that works in the background. When working together, the two disciplines deliver a seamless, clean experience that ignites a buyer’s interest.

Design and Market Invention

Understanding how to use—or not use—design archetypes is at the core of a well-planned Market Invention strategy. Market Invention can use a shift in brand imaging or messaging to pivot into a new market and target unreached customers.

Trevor Stauffer

Five Lessons From the Growing Artisan Economy

We hear a lot about the artisan economy. It’s a movement towards personalized, hand-made, small-scale production that has been gaining lots of momentum in the US. So much momentum, in fact, that artisans are taking a measurable chip out of mid-sized manufacturers. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, if the artisan economy were a country, it would have the fourth largest economy in the world. While larger sized businesses obviously cannot compete with some aspects of the artisan economy, they can certainly reflect on some of the principles that are propelling artisan growth and apply them to their own organizations.

Trevor Stauffer

Nonni's Biscotti owns its Market, but will it stay in first place?

Before Nonni’s came out with its first gourmet cookies in 1988, few Americans had a clue what a biscotti was. But the company presented its simple, crunchy cookies as a classier, healthier alternative to traditional American cookies, and biscotti soon became a national trend.

Social Media and Market Invention

Most businesses are still struggling with how social media strategy has changed the marketing landscape. Honestly, so are most marketing firms. If you look at the average company’s social media presence, they aren’t employing this new technology nearly as well as they could be.


Market Research and Market Invention

Most market research aims to find opportunities to grab a bigger slice of the proverbial pie. It’s a mindset – a competitive tactic – that’s been around for well over a century. Lots of companies and marketing firms use this strategy, some with pretty good results. So why do we take a different approach?

Harrisburg Office
2201 N Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Portland Office
917 SW Oak Street #303, Portland, OR 97205