Daily Dose of iQ: Amazon Pulling Its Branded Diapers After Less Than 2 Months

Jan 21, 2015 — Allan Pulga

FastCompany reported today that Amazon is temporarily discontinuing its Amazon Elements line of diapers (pictured above), after less than two months of selling them.

The company cites design issues and negative customer feedback, but is offering a $25 credit toward new Amazon diapers once they’re available. I sat down with a couple of my co-workers (one of whom is a new mom) to get their thoughts on the news.

Any guesses as to why the Amazon pulled the diapers?

Diana Thompson, Interaction Architect: I would speculate that it was the product itself that was the problem, however there are many other reasons (e.g. stock levels, logistical execution, etc.) that could have contributed to the decision. The offer of a $25 gift card implies that consumers were very unhappy, and Amazon is doing the best damage control it can. The diapers sell for $9.99 for a 40-pack, which is a fraction of the gift card value. This I find interesting. How bad was it?

Apparently, the Amazon diapers gave off a burnt smell when customers opened the packaging and their material was thin.

Faai Steuer, Enterprise Marketing Manager & new mom: Amazon is a great distributor and middleman, but making high quality products obviously is not among their core competencies. I think even though they know which products are selling well, they may not understand "why they sell well." It seems they lack the understanding of what consumers are really looking for. After some quick research, apparently, there is a burnt smell when you open the package and the diaper material is thin. As a mom, I would think that this product is comprised of toxic, low quality materia and even though it has great absorbency, I wouldn't trust it with my baby.

These diapers were cheap and Amazon is convenient. Don't you agree that new parents should theoretically be all over this availability?

Diana: I agree that for a certain demographic, having essentials delivered would be preferred. For example, the majority of people living in downtown Vancouver do not own vehicles and tend to do more frequent trips to local merchants rather than big grocery stores. The convenience of having large, bulky items delivered is definitely a benefit to the consumer, therefore a market for Amazon. I do agree that the experience should have worked, but if you are providing a substandard product, the convenience will never trump its quality.

I'll go for the cheap price and convenience, provided the quality is comparable.

Faai: I don't think availability was an issue here. It is a great strategy to offer a house brand for regular replenishment like this. There are so many people (including me) who are busy and want to check things off the list. It's no fun shopping for diapers. They're bulky and it's a chore. I'll go for the cheap price and convenience, provided the quality is comparable.

This business model does work for other companies, however. See: Dollar Shave Club, for example. What did Dollar Shave Club do right that Amazon did wrong?

Diana: Dollar Shave Club has a reputable supplier of its product, which is definitely an important part of their success. In addition to being able to consistently offer a quality product, the company is selling the “experience.” Monthly Home Delivery Clubs are a booming business right now, so the novelty of the trend helps too.  

Amazon is clearly going back to the 'quality diaper' drawing board here.

Faai: First off, branding! Brand is a powerful thing in a consumer product world. People believe this company is selling a high quality product at a cheap price. After all, there is no risk. It's just a dollar!
Amazon has a great reviews tool which can backfire on its products. People can see the reviews. Technically, this is a good thing, but again, the products have to be of good quality to sell. Amazon is clearly going back to the "quality diaper" drawing board here.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce

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