Friday, October 21, 2011

Case Study: A Thriving Membership Organization

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica at 2:29 PM
One of the membership organizations that I like to follow is Costco. It is a good example to show to people who argue that membership is no longer a viable go to market strategy.

Costco has enjoyed exceptional membership growth over the years. The chart below from their 2010 annual report shows membership at the end of their fiscal year in August 2010. They reported 22.5 million Gold Star Members and 5.7 million Business Members.

As of the end of August 2011, Costco reported 25.0 million Gold Star Members and 6.3 million Business Members. That means Gold Star Membership has seen a five year growth rate of 44 percent and Business Members have grown by almost 21 percent.

A piece by Forbes about Costco that came out yesterday reports, “The renewal rates are approximately at the 89-plus percent range in the U.S. and Canada and 86% worldwide. Costco is also experiencing increasing penetration in the executive membership.” Forbes added that “in Q4 2011, the new member sign-ups witnessed an increase of 22% as compared to a year ago.”

Interestingly, Costco is upping membership fees by 10 percent on November 1. Prices will go from $50 to $55 for Gold Star members and $100 to $110 for Executive Members.  We will have to see if this impacts their membership numbers going forward. 

Obviously, every membership organization cannot be like Costco. However, it is a good reminder that when you deliver good value and market effectively, there are many millions of individuals who are ready and willing to sign up as members to participate in an organization.

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