Over the last couple of months, Amazon has been running TV advertisements promoting the fact that the public can book a tour at one of eight of their fulfillment centers here in the U.K.
Now, I’d never heard of this initiative before, so I wondered how long it had been going on.
As it turns out that they have been running tours of their fulfillment centres for about four years now although while the number of centers covered has expanded the tours only include eight out of sixteen of their locations in the U.K. Moreover, their site suggests that the tours started up again in February 2019 after some unspecified hiatus.
What is new, it seems, is that they are now advertising this capability and have started doing so in the run up to the Christmas period.
Is this a transparency and charm initiative on the back of a bunch of bad press that they have received over the last few years relating to working conditions and the treatment of workers at some of their fulfilment centres here in the U.K.?
Is it meant to assuage any concerns that some shoppers may have about spending their money with Amazon?
Now, while their campaign makes no mention of any of those reports or allegations, you can’t ignore the timing of the advertisement campaign. It started airing in October just before the start of the usual Christmas shopping advertisement wave in early November.
The advert now seems to have been pulled as we get deeper into the Christmas advertising period, and Amazon approaches one of their busiest periods of the year. In line with this, Amazon has also stopped taking new tour bookings for this year and says it will start retaking new bookings in January.
Some people dismiss the rising trend of conscious consumerism as nothing but hot air saying that when it comes down to it only price, quality, convenience and service really matter when it comes to making a purchase.
However, I believe it shows that Amazon is acutely aware of the reputational damage that some of these reports may have had and how they may affect the spending decisions of conscious consumers.
Also, recent research from the U.K. and the U.S. suggests that the impact of their purchasing decisions is a rising concern among consumers and is starting to play a more significant role in their decision-making process. Both pieces of research suggest that around 40% of consumers are now likely to base part of their purchase decision-making depending on how environmentally friendly the company or brand is or how aligned the product or brand fits with the beliefs and values that are important to them.
Regardless of what you believe, it seems that Amazon, one of the largest and most competitive retailers in the world, is paying attention to what customers think and feel about how it conducts its business. And, how that could affect both their propensity to purchase and their overall experience.
This post was originally published on Forbes.com.
Thanks to Lewis Clarke for the image.