PCC member benefit update
by Heather Snavely
This article was originally published in March 2019
In January, as part of our work to evolve our member benefit program, the Membership Task Force held focus groups in three of our stores: Green Lake Village, Redmond and Columbia City. This research was in addition to the online survey we conducted in November with members and non-member shoppers.
The goal of the focus groups was to understand both member and non-member thoughts and opinions about PCC’s current membership program, as well as what it could evolve to in the future. Participants included non-member and member shoppers across a variety of ages and backgrounds. Among the member participants, we recruited people with varying lengths of membership in the co-op and differing levels of participation in the current program.
During the 90-minute discussions, we covered topics including perceptions of the current PCC member benefit program (10 percent off one shop a month plus 5 percent off all purchases on the 15th and 16th of the month); thoughts on new forms of economic return, specifically an annual dividend; and how we might enhance our member benefits with additional perks and experiences that create a deeper sense of community.
What we heard supported much of what we’ve learned through the online survey, third party research and discussions with more than 140 co-ops nationwide. We also uncovered some added insight:
- Shopping behavior has changed. As we shared in the February Sound Consumer article, our research shows that grocery shopping behavior has changed since 2005 when the current member benefit program was launched. Focus group participants agreed and said that the current discounts don’t necessarily work for how they shop today — more frequently, and in smaller trips throughout the month.
- A dividend model was positively received. There was enthusiasm for the flexibility of a dividend, an alternative form of financial reward that was discussed. Members also shared ideas around how we might create a sense of excitement and engagement among members when dividends are awarded.
- There is a desire for community. Participants were interested in other perks that created a deeper sense of community connection, such as member-only tasting events and discounts at local businesses that share PCC’s values.
- Advocacy is the top reason members join. Many participants shared that a significant aspect of their decision to become a PCC member is related to PCC’s advocacy around social and environmental topics. This was a stronger motivator than any financial benefit.
The next step for the Membership Task Force is to make a recommendation, based on the information gathered to date, to the board of trustees on what form the member benefit program will take in the future. Our goal is to reward members more equitably in the true spirit of the co-op principle of member economic participation. Please look to the Sound Consumer for updates as the project progresses.
Heather Snavely is PCC’s VP of marketing.