From massive meal prepping to cutting down on shopping trips to stocking up on toilet paper (hey, we’ve all been there). Buying supplies in bulk from membership retail stores has grown in popularity over the past few decades, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, has only become more popular. And the best part? Members are able to save serious dough. But as customer demographics change and shopping habits change with them, what will being a member of these types of stores look like in the future? Will membership still be as straightforward as flashing a card to enter a warehouse—or might there be other opportunities for customers to benefit from their membership?
With more than 500 locations throughout the US and over 40 million members, a popular wholesale membership retail store sought to create a new vision of membership that includes retail rather than requires it.
The client was experiencing a brand image turnaround, and it wanted to challenge itself to think differently about what “being a member” could look and feel like in the future—what might membership mean going forward that could elevate the typical experience and distinguish the brand from the competition?
With more than a few wholesale retail membership fans in our midst, Concentrix Catalyst was engaged to develop a vision for the future of membership for the next 5-7 years. We designed a concept of membership where members feel seen when they proactively receive personalized product and service recommendations. Members will connect more deeply to the brand through benefits that connect them to other members and to their local community. Members will have exceptional convenience through enhanced digital features and services. And finally, members will be recognized for their tenure (honestly, who doesn’t like to be recognized?).
Working with the membership strategy team, we developed a blueprint for the future of membership that would deliver flexibility to members, build community between the brand and local businesses, and create experiences that solve problems and enhance members’ lives.
To address this, we explored international, social, cultural, economic, and retail trends and examples from across industries for inspiration to see what might translate or inspire new, differentiated ideas for our client. We referenced loyalty best practices we’ve developed to ensure we were staying true to the principles which underpin best-in-class programs. And we emerged with five “truths” for building a foundation for the future of this brand’s membership:
- Trend Truth: We live in an era of change and customers expect more from brands.
- Competitive Truth: Memberships make members’ lives easier and simpler.
- Future Frame Truth: Relationships matter more than ever.
- Audience Truth: It’s harder than ever to be memorable.
- Client Brand Truth: Turn every day into something special.
We led a series of co-creation sessions where, using a human-centered design approach, we brought to life what the future of membership could look like: membership that stays relevant year over year, improves with use, supports members wherever they are, and gives members a sense of belonging. Collaborating with our client, we created a flexible membership strategy that will grow and change with members over time, that builds fellowship with local communities, and delivers access to exceptional products and services that enhance members’ lives.
The membership experience we co-created is designed to stay relevant over time based on a robust test and learn strategy, combining primary research with transactional data. The finished product defined guiding principles which would help guide the evolution of membership as a whole and developed customer journeys to illustrate how the new membership experience could come to life. And of course, no engagement would be complete without a business case to back it up. We delivered a rubric that both helped the organization prioritize which benefits and features of the vision to tackle first and displayed the estimated ROI associated with those benefits and features.
With several popular membership retail stores for customers to choose from, deciding on which one to join can be difficult. With a membership program designed to add value to members’ lives through community engagement, personalization, and more convenience, our client is poised to gain—and keep—members as retail trends shift. When customers feel truly seen by a brand they choose to connect to, they continue to be a part of the brand’s community as time goes on. Because, in the end, don’t we all just want to be a part of something bigger?
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