Here’s an interesting way to spend a Tuesday morning: reading the Amazon Prime member horoscopes for your friends and loved ones!
Fast Company reports that Amazon Prime’s horoscopes — which consist of Amazon product and service recommendations paired with astrological readings — are written by Seattle-based ghostwriter and book doctor Anna Katz, who has a master’s degree in existential phenomenological therapeutic psychology from Seattle University and, according to her website, has also worked for Seventeen and Pokémon. The horoscopes have gone out to Prime members for three months now, and use the stars to make suggestions about where they should put their energy and money in the month ahead.
According to Amazon, the largest online retailer in the United States, my editor Alanna — an Aries, whose birthday was Monday, happy birthday Alanna! — should consider sitting back and relaxing this month, “perhaps on a comfy new sofa, wrapped in a cozy new blankie from Amazon Home.” If she does so, “a new understanding will emerge.”
My father, Jim, an Aquarius, is advised to stop worrying about “laugh-riot questions” about who he is and what his purpose in life might be, but instead to “Just remember, Alexa Shopping and Prime Pantry are always there to answer life’s simpler questions, like ‘What do I do when I run out of hot sauce?’ and ‘Where do I get more laundry detergent?’”
As for me, a Scorpio, all the seeds I have planted are soon to sprout, “though which ones are anyone’s guess.” In the meantime, I should “eat well at Whole Foods Market or through AmazonFresh,” to ensure I have “the energetic wherewithal” for something. (Since I am not actually an Amazon Prime member, I don’t know that this horoscope technically applies to me.)
In any case, Amazon’s choice to start using the horoscope format to recommend its already incredibly well-known services to people who likely already use them is a wearisome but not altogether surprising one.
We’ve entered a new golden age of astrology, as Julie Beck wrote for the Atlantic last January, explaining that millennials are the most stressed-out generation alive and are increasingly looking for any kind of advice and guidance they can find. The Cut editor-in-chief Stella Bugbee told Beck at the time that views on her site’s horoscopes increased 150 percent between 2017 and 2018, and Broadly senior editor Callie Beusman said her site’s horoscope traffic had grown “exponentially.”
It is, alongside everything else, a lovely opportunity to make money. Ann Taylor Loft has a horoscope section that guides you to “read and shop” your star sign, and astrology-themed gift guides were everywhere last holiday shopping season.
This astrology boom has also been uniquely primed for exploitation by tech brands, in that it already involves a lot of data and programming. The super-popular horoscope app Co—Star launched in October 2017, founded by an engineer, a software developer, and a design director who originally worked together at the Kim Kardashian-favorite SoHo boutique VFiles. It uses artificial intelligence and NASA data about planet movements to write daily horoscopes, allows users to sync their accounts with friends and compare birth charts, and is currently downloaded close to 300,000 times per month. (Its predictions have recently gotten very rude, but this does not seem to be hurting its popularity.)
In March, a startup called Sanctuary (“the first global media lifestyle brand serving a horoscope/tarot/supernatural-seeking Millennial audience”) raised $1.5 million in venture capital, assisted by Lorne Michaels’s incubator.
The beloved California astrologer and blogger Chani Nicholas has about 1 million monthly readers and launched a partnership with Spotify in January. Nicholas is working with the streaming service on “Cosmic Playlists” that are “informed by” her astrological readings and “curated with songs and artists whose music reflects and evokes [the readings’] themes.”
For Spotify, the project is just a cutesy branding exercise. For Amazon, it remains to be seen whether a horoscope suggesting that voice shopping with Alexa will “make you happy” will have any impact on sales.