Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amazon's Awareness Problem

"What's a Kindle?"

That's the question my sister asked me over the phone when I mentioned my wife bought me one for my birthday. I told her to ask her husband if he knows what it is.

In the background I hear, "he got a Gimple for his birthday and he's asking if you know what that is."

Gimple. Kindle. Whatever. Neither of them had ever heard of the device. Keep in mind we're talking about a couple that's quite techno-literate. Everyone in their family has an iPod, a laptop, etc. Heck, I'm 99% sure they're also regular Amazon customers for print books, so I guess that Kindle advertisement that's front and center on Amazon's home page isn't highly effective.

I explained it's Amazon's e-book reader. That didn't impress her, but when I noted that you can take all your books with you on one small device, downloads happen over the air, you can even get several popular magazines before they arrive in the mail for about $1.50/month, I started to win her over. The clincher was when she mentioned her need for increasingly stronger reading glasses. Aha! I told her she could resize type on the Kindle to suit her needs and I think she became a convert. Of course, I didn't mention the price tag, which is the biggest deterrent, but I was trying to keep the conversation upbeat.

Even though Amazon has done a terrific job building a solid corporate brand name over the last 10+ years, the Kindle is still a head-scratcher to a large chunk of Amazon's potential audience. Granted, Kindle is only seven months old, but Amazon's no advertising, no in-store presence approach clearly has its drawbacks.

Amazon ought to consider taking a page out of Tupperware's and Longaberger's playbooks. Kindle Parties would go a long way in raising awareness and generating enthusiasm. And if hosts/presenters could get a cut of resulting orders, hey, I'll bet a lot of Kindle owners would sign up to lead the charge; the cut would have to be more than Amazon's typical affiliate percentage though.


Anonymous said...

Funny, because every time I go to Amazon's website, I'm assaulted with the Kindle on their homepage. I wonder if your sister is an Amazon customer. Surely, regular Amazon customers will know about it as the ad for them can hardly be avoided.

Joe Wikert said...

I agree, but I wonder how much those ads become nothing more than white noise. I'm sure I miss a lot on Amazon's home page since I'm only there briefly: I enter "" into my browser and as soon as the page loads I'm typing something else into the Amazon search bar. IOW, I go to the Amazon home page several times a day but I'm only there for a second or two. I wonder how many others have the same experience.