Attention Amazon Competitors: Target The 35 Million Ex-Prime Members

Amazon’s stranglehold on the American consumer has been well-documented, with Prime reportedly having as many as 80 million subscribers. But what isn’t recognized is that as many as 35 million shoppers have quit using Prime at some point, according to data from Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Pam Goodfellow, Principal Analyst and Consumer Insights Director at Prosper Insights & Analytics, revealed in a Forbesarticle that the majority (78%) of consumers who have given up Amazon Prime were testing out trail memberships. Only 22% had invested in a paid subscription.

The Prime fees, $99 annually or $10.99 per month, are certainly a barrier to many potential members. Consumers gave various reasons for leaving the service, including:


  • Unable to afford the price;

  • Seeing the price as an unnecessary expense;

  • Not buying enough to justify the cost; and

  • Not finding value in the other content included in the Prime package.

“There are competitors coming and offering free shipping without a subscription,” said Goodfellow in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Walmart offers free two-day shipping with a $35 order, and Target offers free shipping and returns with a $35 purchase. That’s quite a value proposition for a household that feels $99 is just too much for their budget.”

Goodfellow noted that free shipping is still far ahead as the top reason shoppers subscribe to the Prime service. With that in mind, retailers must understand that free shipping, regardless of budgeting limitations or the potential short-term losses required to implement it, is a necessity if they want to reel in shoppers that have left Prime.

Data from Prosper’s Composite Shopper Preference Index reveals that former Prime members are 23% less likely to shop Amazon than other shoppers in general, instead showing an above-average preference for competitors Walmart and Target. The typical demographic for those leaving Prime are 18- to 34-year-olds who are unlikely to have children in their household and have less disposable income than Prime members.

“For other retailers, this might say that there is hope,” Goodfellow said. “These competing retailers have to make a compelling value proposition to these consumers. It’s all about being nimble and consumer-centric, and offering other fulfillment options, such as buy online/pick up in-store, which have proven more compelling to shoppers. Maybe I don’t need to wait two days for shipping; I’ll go to that store over the weekend anyway to pick up my groceries after ordering them online. Those other offers that Amazon can’t quite make right now are at least attracting consumers, and diverting their attention from the brand.”

Prime Membership Still Climbs Even With Churn

Despite the exodus from Prime, the service is still large — and growing: approximately 44% of all consumers confirmed they are Prime members. This percentage actually grew more than 30% from a year ago, showing that Amazon is able to attract new members to replace those that depart. Additionally, 25% of former Prime members indicate that they are considering going back to Prime at some point, with many saying they opt back in within six months.

“35 million shoppers is a significant number, but it’s important to recognize and balance that with the fact that Amazon Prime continues to grow,” Goodfellow noted. “This isn’t some kind of warning signal for Amazon, but there’s a lot of shoppers that might not quite be so enamored with Prime and are looking at other places to shop. As we get closer to back-to-school and the holiday season, with Walmart and Target offering free shipping incentives as well, it will be interesting to track how shoppers respond to that.”

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