When you’re browsing Amazon, have you ever noticed that it sells a bunch of brands you don’t see anywhere else? Maybe you never paid that much attention. Or maybe you just chalked it up to Amazon playing host to a new generation of online-only brands. The truth, however, may be surprising.
In an investigation of Amazon’s trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Quartz discovered that the company secretly owns a variety of different brands. 19 of these brands currently sell products on its site, in a wide variety of areas. These include cosmetics (under the name Beauty Bar) and women’s clothing (under names such asNorth ElevenandLark & Ro). It also includes tech accessories (NuPro) and frozen food (under the moniker Single Cow Burger), among others.
Quartz also uncovered a handful of other brands that use the same incorporation address as other Amazon properties, but aren’t yet trademarked by the internet giant. For the most part, these are clothing companies you can find in Amazon Fashion.
A corporation operating as an umbrella company with a number of sub brands isn’t in itself news. Google, for example, does that: Alphabet is the parent company, while Google, Google X, Nest, and other organizations basically operate independently under the Alphabet fold. What’s different about Amazon’s situation is that, for the most part, these are secret brands. If you search for them on Amazon’s site, you’d likely never realize they were owned by Amazon.
For consumers, that could present a quandary. Some people pride themselves on supporting independent, up-and-coming brands. Thinking you’re supporting some new seller on Amazon and discovering you’re actually giving your dollars to Amazon itself might come as a shock. All these different brandsparticularly in its fashion sectionalso give buyers the impression that there’s a broad number of options to choose from. In fact, when deciding to buy this or that shirt, you’re deciding between Amazon Brand A and Amazon Brand B.
The latter is actually something consumers deal with on a daily basis. If you’re deciding between a tub of Dreyer’s or Hagen Dazs, guess what? You’re choosing between Nestle Brand A and Nestle Brand B. If you’re at the bar craving either a Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, or Corona, you’ve got yourself three ABInBev brands. Grocery stores do the same thing, too. Safeway shoppers, for example, will find brands such as O Organics, Primo Taglio, Lucerne Dairy Farms, Refreshe water, and Bright Green cleaning products. All of these are Safeway-owned. Perhaps then it’s not all that surprising then that if you’re shopping at Amazon, you’ll be mostly sorting through various Amazon-owned labels.
When asked about its many brands, an Amazon representative did confirm that several of the brands Quartz uncovered do in fact belong to Amazon, despite not being listed as such on its website. While Amazon may not be up totally front about which names it owns, it’s at least not being completely deceptive about it.