Wide angle view of BJ's Wholesale club in VA.

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Membership Warehouse Clubs have been winning over customers from other retail channels with value, managed assortments, packaging, timeliness and innovation.

Meyers Research Center’s Membership Warehouse Club Close-Up Study has provided sponsors with deep and unique insights to help them position their products and brand within this channel.
This research is based upon an online survey, developed from shop-along observations of member behavior and purchase decision considerations.  The survey was completed by 2,914 members of one or more of the major warehouse clubs: BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club.  Each respondent was asked to provide information on up to two individual items they purchased for a total number of over 5,000 purchase decisions across a range of categories.  In addition, information was collected on demography, retrospective behavior, current attitudes/perceptions and future intentions.
Highlights: Membership Behavior and Attitudes  
  • Multiple membership is greatest among BJ’s members and least among Costco members.
  • 19% of members belong to 2+ Clubs. 
  • Many Costco members have paid for upgraded memberships to get rewards back.
  • Business memberships are proportionally greatest at Sam’s Club.  However, in this club the dominating membership is still consumer.  Also, seventy-five percent of club item purchases among business members are actually made for personal/family consumption or use.
  • Overall satisfaction with the Warehouse Club is high, though not without some room for improvement.  Costco club members are more satisfied than others.
  • Compared to BJ’s or Sam’s Club, Costco is perceived as the better place for discovery.
  • Shopping behavior can vary by club.  Seemingly small differences in retail policy (coupons/no coupons) leads to different shopping behavior, including pre-club preparation, visit frequency and basket size.
  • Club members do not want to give up quality just to pay less.  Club members reject the notion that they may need to sacrifice quality to get the best deal.
  • It might be argued that BJ’s is more national brand friendly because it accepts manufacturer coupons and permits more skus in its outlets than either Costco or Sam’s Club.  But all clubs now expend considerable effort on development of private label brands.
  • Club private label development remains variable by category.
Highlights: Key Attitudes Among Club Members
Suggestive of Opportunity 
  • Satisfaction is high, but not complete or uniform. 
  • The major clubs are perceived differently with respect to introducing new items, initiating product trends and quality of merchandise.
  • Member shopping behavior differs by club:  BJ’s and Costco members are more aware of incentives (coupons and limited time offers).
  • Club members generally are unwilling to sacrifice quality for lowest price.
  • Club members perceive the club trip as fill-in as opposed to complete shopping experience.
Highlights: Shopping Behavior
  • Over one-quarter of club members also seek bulk sizes in other retail channels.
  • Regardless of buying bulk elsewhere or not, most club members are interested in the savings to be derived from buying in bulk.  Only a minority have families or situations that actually demand bulk purchase.
  • One-third of club members would like to obtain more of the items they purchase in other stores at the club.  Forty percent of these cited a particular brand they’d like to get.  Also important are specific flavors, types, and variants.  Very few members want more variety for variety’s sake.
For More Information About This Study or To Purchase a General Comprehensive Report, Contact: gbrown@meyersresearch.com