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#sowhoknew: How Harry Potter made Amazon

Amazon HP 2Happy birthday Amazon. 15 years old this week. Sales are currently over USD 6 billion a year and business is burgeoning. Its success has been largely attributed to its founder, the muggle, Jeff Bezos (who is worth a cool USD 25 billion). But there is an alternative theory that a certain young wizard from Hogwarts waved his wand over proceedings and added a little magic into the mix…

In 1998, when Amazon was incarnated their range was strictly limited to books and only available in the UK. Now it is a global internet phenomenon selling everything from car parts to clothes with a range of over 100,000 products. It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings. In its first year of operation, the top selling item was a novel called Amsterdam, a Booker prize-winning morality tale by Ian McEwan.

Yet only a year later in 1999 with the release of the third instalment in the Harry Potter series, ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’, things really began to take off. The JK Rowling book proved to be a runaway sales success for Amazon and established them as an online brand to contend with. Indeed the Potter series proved pivotal to Amazon’s continued success. Later instalments of Harry Potter topped the list in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

And now Amazon conjures up as many as 41 orders per second and up to 350,000 purchases a day. Magical.

Amazon HPOn the flip side to Amazon’s success, it has proved to be the Killing Curse for high street retailers in countries like the UK where 22 per cent of shops are predicted to close in the next five years. And the real irony is, that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ has just been announced as Amazons 15th anniversary best seller. Witchcraft.

The author, Steve Blakeman, is the CEO of OMD Asia Pacific
Mr Blakeman is a Contributor to Digital Market Asia’s editorial commentary; more of his views can be found under his column #sowhoknew that kicked off on September 26, 2013…

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.