Will REI’s membership soar with its new lifetime program?
For the first time in 84 years, REI has updated its lifetime membership program with five new benefits and a higher price ($30 one-time fee versus $20 previously). The retailer is launching it with a goal to more than double membership to 50 million by 2030, up from 20 million currently.
The co-op is introducing the new benefits in addition to its traditional perks that include 10 percent off almost everything in the store automatically (paid back in an annual dividend), members-only coupons and discounts on rentals, classes, events and adventures. Existing members are graduated into the program.
The five new additions are:
- Free shipping: Free U.S. standard shipping on all orders, no minimum purchase required. (Exceptions for international shipping and oversized items.)
- Member Collection: REI will launch a broader, curated set of members-only offerings each month such as brand collaborations, limited editions, early access and special offers.
- REI Cooperative Action Fund donation: With each new membership purchased, REI will donate $5 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund to support organizations committed to justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors.
- Members-only used gear: Used gear offerings, now called Re/Supply, are now just for members.
- Shop service discount: In-store bike, ski and snowboard shop services discounts are doubled to 20 percent off for members.
Interest in outdoor activities from camping to hiking and biking surged as the pandemic shut down indoor activities. A report last year, “New Outdoor Participant (Covid And Beyond)” from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) found new participants more likely to be female, younger, living in an urban area and slightly more ethnically diverse than existing participants.
Many aspects of REI’s new program — including limited-edition collaborations, secondhand sales and purpose-led donations — appear tailored to the younger set.
REI Chief Marketing Officer Vivienne Long told WWD, “The reality is we need to be bringing in not only more people, but the future generation — younger, more diverse — so bringing in almost different types of people that we’ve traditionally had in our member base. A big part of our benefits is really thinking about, ‘What are the needs of a future generation of outdoor enthusiasts?’”
- REI Co-op relaunches its lifetime membership program to support 50-million-member community vision – REI
- 2021 Special Report: New Outdoor Participant (Covid And Beyond) – Outdoor Industry Association
- REI Co-op Relaunches Lifetime Membership Program – WWD
- REI Plans To Grow Lifetime Membership Program To 50 Million, Here’s How – Forbes
- REI upgrades co-op membership program, aims for 50 million members by 2030 – Outdoor Business Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the upgrades to REI’s lifetime membership program help the co-op reach a younger and more diverse audience? Does the program stray too far from REI’s roots or not go far enough?