Amazon’s Prime membership has grown to 90 million in the U.S. and those customers are spending, on average, some $1,300 each year, compared to about $700 for non-member customers, according to a report Wednesday from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
That comes from the equity securities research firm’s estimate that, as of Sept. 30, a whopping 63% of Amazon customers are also Prime members. Prime membership grew 6% in the most recent quarter, the same rate as in the June quarter this year and better than the 3% in the year-ago September quarter, according to the report.
The share of members that indicate they are likely to renew for another year has remained high for several quarters, always "comfortably above 90%," CIRP said in the report.
Despite its increased penetration in the U.S., which would seem to lead to ebbing growth in its Prime membership program, Amazon managed to grow Prime by 38% from October 2016 to September 2017, the same rate in the same twelve-month period as the year before, CIRP said Wednesday. "Amazon Prime membership continued its steady growth as in recent quarters," CIRP Partner and Co-Founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement.
And renewals remain robust, CIRP found. "Even as Amazon Prime adds late adopters to the ranks of Prime members, loyalty remains high," Mike Levin, also CIRP Partner and Co-Founder, said in a statement. "In fact, in some quarters, literally no customers in the sample indicated they would definitely not renew their Amazon Prime membership."
This is a source of great vexation for rivals online and off. Prime members pony up $99 each year — and that likely steers them to Amazon for items in a variety of categories. After all, they’ve essentially paid ahead of time for their free two-day shipping, their host of added perks (like streaming entertainment and photo storage) makes it easier to renew, and Amazon’s vast assortment (bolstered by its marketplace) makes it likely they’ll find what they’re looking for. Members are also privy to some of the e-commerce giant's best-selling private label consumer product goods.
But is it the reality? Moody’s Investors Service analysts are skeptical, earlier this year throwing cold water on the kind of statistics from CIRP and other outlets that try to figure out the size of Amazon’s Prime base, calling them "seriously overstated," "highly improbable" and made "in the absence of any real guidance from the company itself." (The retailer doesn’t give out those numbers on its own.)
"I get calls from investors all the time saying, 'Gee I just saw Amazon had 85 million Prime members in the U.S.,' and I say, 'Where the hell did you see that?'" Moody's Lead Retail Analyst Charlie O'Shea said in an August interview with Retail Dive.