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The Rise of Retail Memberships

The Rise of Retail Memberships

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What we’re seeing

Alkami Research examined consumer engagement with retail memberships, a subscription where a consumer pays a membership fee to receive additional value added benefits with that retailer or brand. Brands and retailers do this to drive loyalty and ongoing engagement with their customers. 

In the Alkami Research panel, we found 1 in 4 account holders had at least one retail membership paid out of their checking account in 2023.  Of those who had at least one membership, the average account holder in our panel had 1.4 retail memberships. This does not include memberships that may be paid via a credit card, so the actual number may be even higher. 

Most of this is driven by the 500-pound-gorilla, Amazon Prime, and two other massive retailers – Costco and Sam’s Club, all in the retail membership category.  However, there is a clear trend for retailers and brands to launch memberships, and Alkami Research uncovered more merchants doing so in 2023 than ever before. Often what makes these memberships attractive are the special benefits or rewards that come along with them; and consumers are looking to save.  Amazon Prime consumers get free fast shipping on their Amazon purchases, but also get an Amazon Music subscription, access to Prime Video, and much more. Costco and Sam’s Club memberships enable access to their warehouse where consumers can buy in bulk, a gateway to exclusive products curated by Costco or Sam’s Club’s buying teams, and receive cash back rebates each year. Uber and Doordash have each launched paid membership programs (UberOne and Dash Pass) providing no delivery fees and reduced service fees for other offers.  Restoration Hardware members get special pricing on their entire catalog.

Takeaway and Call to Action

Financial institutions should evaluate the structure of retail memberships when strategizing about product design. Consumers are willing to pay extra for value added benefits. Banks and credit unions should consider creating a checking product that is loaded with additional benefits to drive loyalty. Could a premium primary financial institution (PFI) membership include slightly higher deposit interest rates or slightly lower lending rates?  A premium membership fee could be waived if account holders meet balance minimums or debit card usage minimums. To drive stickiness, consider offering a premium status that positively impacts all of the consumer’s accounts.

Source

Alkami Telemetry Data for this figure was sourced from a panel of 22 financial institutions with more than 2.5 million account holders and over 1.5 billion transactions.

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