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Amazon debuts Elements, a new line of ethical products

Amazon is going after the high end family products market cornered by The Honest Company

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 4, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3aca

One of the most interesting, and successful, startups in the Los Angeles tech scene right now is The Honest Company, a subscription service, co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, that offers eco-friendly baby and family products. It has capitalized on a general feeling of unease that people, and especially new parents, have over the types of products they use and whether or not they are safe.

The company seems to have started something of a trend in the industry, with a number of other companies coming along to try to replicate and copy it, but none of the others in the space have, so far, really been able to compete.

That might not be true for much longer, though, now that Amazon has announced it is getting into the ethical products space as well. It has launched Amazon Elements, its own line of premium products, which offers increased transparency and information on products sold through the company.

Each page for Amazon Elements products will give "an unprecedented level of information." That includes where items were sourced and why certain ingredients were used. On top of that, each package will have a unique code that will give even more information, and when scanned using the Amazon mobile shopping app, users will be able to track its specific ingredients and their origins, its date and place of manufacture, date of delivery, and ‘best by’ date.

Amazon is limiting access to Elements to its Prime users only, and is starting out with just two products: diapers and baby wipes.

The company is very obviously going after new parents with this launch, which is compounded by the number of testimonials from mothers it included in the press release. For example, one mother is quoted as saying, “These wipes are really great! Soft and strong, and sensitive enough for my baby's skin. They held up very well while in use.” 

It's a good strategy for breaking into this space, as new parents are among the most concerned about the effect that toxic products will have on their baby. In fact, this is the track that Honest took as well, first launching baby products, before diving into other areas, including household cleaners and, eventually,beauty products as well

“Our obsession with customers and drive to continuously innovate on their behalf has led us to create Amazon Elements. The two things customers told us they want are premium products that meet their high standards, and access to information so they can make informed decisions, Amazon Elements offers both,” Sunny Jain, Amazon.com Consumables Vice President, said in a statement.

"We’ve leveraged our strengths in technology to bring customers an unprecedented level of information about these products, all with just the click of a button."

So it certainly sounds as though Elements will be a competitor for Honest, but there are a few things that will stand in the way.

First is it's it financial success: Honest has raised $122 million in venture capital funding, most recently a $70 million round in August of this year. It has a $1 billion market cap at the last round, and is on a revenue run-rate of $150 million.  

And then there are the intangibles. Honest Company co-founder Brian Lee isn't convinced that Amazon is getting into the space with the same goals. The difference, he said, is that Honest's entire mission is to change the world and the way we consume our products, while Amazon is trying to get in on a trend.

"Honest is a completely different offering of a Non-Toxic, Natural and trusted brand.  Elements is similar in my opinion to 365 Diapers at Whole Foods and Kirkland diapers at Costco," he said.

"I think that Amazon may do well taking some market share from Pampers but cannot compete against Honest in terms of non-toxic, better and safer for your child.  They are not mission focused in helping to create a non-toxic world the way Honest is focused."

(Image source: amazon.com)


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The Honest Company
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Description: The Honest Company (www.Honest.com), founded by Jessica Alba, Christopher Gavigan, Brian Lee and Sean Kane, was created to ensure that pa...

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