Here's why Prime Day is more than a sale

The online giant's reinvention of the old Christmas in July promotion has turned into a celebration of all things Amazon.
Written by Ross Rubin, Contributor

(Image: Amazon)

While the deals may not approach the discounting levels of the most aggressive Black Friday doorbusters, Amazon's Prime Day is often compared to the kind of major sales event that typically happens in the run-up to Christmas. Of course, Amazon did not invent the idea of a "Christmas in July" sale. Such absurdity dates back to at least Crazy Eddie, the New York electronics chain that gained infamy first for its commercials starring a screaming pitchman and finally as a retailer whose CEO went to jail after cooking the books.

Those who track Amazon's financial performance have quickly come to see Prime Day as a major contributor to Amazon's revenue, even as much of the company's growth has begun to come from its managed service provider division, AWS. Prime Day has become a cultural phenomenon. Articles are written about its impending arrival. Deal sites speculate on what it might hold. And as with holiday sales, it has inspired competitors to respond. Yes, even online retailers other than Amazon now recognize Prime Day.

If that weren't enough evidence that Prime Day hasn't morphed into a quasi-holiday, consider similarities to Festivus, the fictional -- and certainly secular -- holiday invented on the series Seinfeld. In Festivus, the iconic object is a pole around which people air grievances. Prime Day too now has a central cylindrical object around which people shout. It can even exhibit feats of (computing) strength by controlling objects around the home.

Amazon has also been savvy in using Prime Day, as it has holiday sales, to promote use of its technology initiatives. In previous years, it was keen on promoting its apps by making exclusive deals available through them. It's now taking a similar approach with Alexa.

But unlike Christmas or even Black Friday, Amazon owns Prime Day. It is its subscription service-reinforcing brand. It has integrated it not only with apps and Alexa, but a whole suite of its consumer offerings that now include audiobooks, movie and music services, grocery delivery and home services. Prime Day has become a celebration of Amazon.com the way that Apple's or Google's developer conferences have become for their companies.

And with Amazon continuing to seep into physical locations, it may not be long before Prime Day decorations deck out Amazon's mall kiosks, bookstores or even Whole Foods. You may even be tempted to sing such Prime Day favorites as Jingle Coins, Silver and Gold Box, Do You Hear What I Say, Alexa? Rudolph, the RED Camera-Equipped Delivery Drone, or O Holy Two-Day Delivery or Get It Tomorrow If You Order in the Next 17 Minutes.

But please, don't get too caught up in any feelings of brotherhood and kindness toward your fellow shoppers. Remember crass consumerism. It's the reason for the season.

Editorial standards