Anti-Amazon Congressman Appears Unfamiliar with the Concept of Store Brands
House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D–N.Y.) has issued a series of tweets accusing Amazon of predatory behavior for creating its own version of the products it sells:
Imagine if you ran a store and knew exactly which products would sell best. Rather than competing on the merits, you just copy those products, down to the smallest detail.
Now imagine you place the original on the next aisle, on the highest shelf, out of view. You can’t lose.
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) October 19, 2021
Several major retailers do, in fact, create cheaper store-branded or generic versions of the products they sell. Go to CVS, and you’ll see store versions of everything from over-the-counter painkillers to vitamins. Countless supermarket chains have their own versions of well-known sodas. Not long after Cicilline’s tweets appeared, tech writer Ben Evans tweeted a list of major retail chains in America and what percent of their revenue comes from their own private brands.
Americans spend close to $160 billion annually on private label goods. And Amazon’s private-label footprint is actually pretty small. The company gets less than 2 percent of its revenue from its private label products, compared to the double-digit percentages at other major retailers.
But once search algorithms get involved, people with agendas start suggesting that tech is being used to manipulate our choices. Amazon isn’t simply accused here of copying other companies’ products and then undercutting their prices, something most retailers already do. It’s accused of hiding other companies’ products through its search engine and giving priority to its own stuff, depriving consumers of their choices.
Reuters recently reported, based on internal documents, that Amazon was copying products and rigging search results in India as it attempted to grow its market there. Amazon denies the accusations. The story paints al
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