The new PCC Member Benefit Program

Sound Consumer November 2019

Nearly two years ago, a joint task force of the PCC Board of Trustees and PCC management team was formed by the Board to evaluate our current member benefit and consider whether changes should be made to better meet the needs of PCC, our members and our community. Based on research that included member focus groups, member surveys and emails and phone calls from members, the answer was, “Yes.”

Much thought and care has been put into creating a new member benefit that aligns with our co-op’s values. The new program is rich with opportunities for members to share in the co-op’s success, build deeper relationships with each other and local businesses across Western Washington, and support the causes that are foundational to PCC’s long history of advocacy and food policy engagement.

Following is an introductory overview of the new program, which was recommended to the Board of Trustees by the Member Benefit Task Force and unanimously approved. All members will transition to the new PCC Member Benefit Program on Jan. 1, 2020. Full details about each element will be available online starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Ownership: Share in the co-op’s success and have a voice in its future.

Annual Dividend—Starting Jan. 1, 2020, PCC members may earn a 2% annual dividend on purchases made at PCC, whether in-store or online, at full price or on sale. A dividend is your share of the co-op’s annual profits that may be paid out to you as a store credit after the end of each year. With this change, members will need to identify themselves at the register each time they shop. To speed this process, please ensure your phone number is up to date by visiting this link.

Democratic Participation—Member ownership is one of the things that sets PCC apart from other grocers in our region. Members help guide our future by electing members to the PCC Board of Trustees and have the opportunity to meet with trustees through quarterly meet-and-greets at PCC stores. We will continue to promote this unique benefit through the new program.

Values: Get more value for shopping your values.

PCC Members-only Offers—Members overwhelmingly agree that they love the coupons we send in the mail each year. Because of this, we’re introducing members-only offers that will be delivered via email periodically throughout the year. Don’t want to miss an offer? Update your contact information using the address change form.

PCC Partner Program—Our community is much larger than our nearly 70,000 active members. It also includes the producers who fill our shelves and the businesses in the communities we serve. As part of our new member benefit program, PCC members will receive exclusive discounts and offers at select, like-minded businesses and organizations across Western Washington. The full list of partners will be shared in early 2020.

Community: Come together over shared tables and shared values.

PCC Members-only Events—Imagine a private tasting of PCC-exclusive wine with a group of fellow PCC members. Or traveling to a local farm to harvest unused produce to donate to a local food bank. The new member benefit program will give members access to events that align with our co-op’s values like organic product tastings, culinary field trips, community volunteer activities and other unique experiences curated just for PCC members.

Classes at PCC—PCC cooking classes continue to be a way for PCC members to explore their culinary passions. Under the new member benefit program, all class purchases will be eligible for the member dividend. Members will also receive 50% off one class each year.

Advocacy: Take action to create a more sustainable world.

Public Policy Impact—Collectively, our co-op members have a notable impact on the direction of state and national policy. Over the years, PCC and our members have effected change on many topics ranging from strengthening organic standards to limiting the use of salmon net pens to eliminating toxins from products. As our active membership grows beyond the nearly 70,000 who proudly carry membership cards today, the influence we can have together in Olympia and Washington, D.C. increases exponentially. We alert our members when there is a new issue or a need to take urgent action through our PCC Advocates email. Sign up to receive PCC Advocates emails here.

Sound Consumer Subscription—We will continue to keep members informed about food and agriculture, environmental issues, consumer concerns and co-op principles through free home delivery of the Sound Consumer newspaper.

 

Thank you for your continued support and passion for our co-op and our shared values. We believe our members set us apart, and that our new member benefit creates an even stronger reason to be an engaged voice in this flourishing, 66-year-old community.

Watch your email and future issues of Sound Consumer for more updates about the member benefit program. Full details about each of the program elements will be available online in early 2020.

 


Member Benefit FAQ

Q: Has PCC ever changed its member benefit before?

A: Yes! In fact, our co-op has changed its member benefit program seven times in its 66-year history. The most current benefit launched nearly 15 years ago—and a lot has changed since then, particularly in the way people shop. That changing landscape was part of the reason the PCC Board of Trustees formed a task force to evaluate the member benefit program again.

Q: How many members use the current member benefit?

A: Member data show that in any given month, only 40% of members use the current 10% discount. Use of the 5% member discount on the 15th and 16th of the month is even lower: Fewer than 25% of members take advantage of this benefit. It was clear, based on this data, that our member benefit program was not meeting the needs of most members, and we wanted to design a program that would.

Q: Why is the targeted dividend 2%?

A: After the decision to move to a dividend model, the most significant decision we made was determining the target amount of the dividend. We researched what dividend other grocery co-ops provide and looked at similar models outside the grocery industry. We did considerable financial modelling to understand the impact of a dividend to the financial health of PCC—grocery store profit margins are very slim, usually between 1% and 3%. After thorough research and consideration, the Member Benefit Task Force recommended to the Board that the target be a 2% dividend, once profits are determined and allocated. Whether the dividend is paid out will be determined at the end of the year and reliant on the co-op being profitable.

Q: When will the dividend be paid out?

A: The first dividend under the new program will be determined and distributed in the form of a store credit beginning in the first quarter of 2021 for purchases made during 2020.

Q: Is the 10% off one shop a month going away?

A: Yes, the 10% off one shop a month will go away as of Dec. 31, 2019. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all members will move to the new member benefit program.

Q: Will the 15th and the 16th of the month still be member days?

A: No, the 15th and 16th will no longer be member days. Members may receive 2% on their purchases each time they shop the co-op.

Q: Why weren’t members asked to vote on the change to member benefit?

A: The member benefit program, like other strategic topics at the co-op, is within the purview of the PCC Board of Trustees, whose primary responsibility is to represent the interests of members. Though we did not conduct a formal member vote, we engaged members at all points during our research and analysis to ensure that the voice and will of members was heard and considered.

Q: Did you consider allowing members to be “grandfathered” into the old program and keep the 10%, instead of moving everyone to the dividend?

A: Yes, we considered this, and determined this was not the right approach for PCC members as a whole. Developing two separate programs treats select members differently and that did not align with our co-op’s values.

Q: Did you consider lowering prices when you decided to move away from the monthly 10% discount?

A: Determining pricing is done separately from, but with consideration of, the establishment of the member benefit. Pricing affects all PCC shoppers, not just those who are members, and is set to ensure our ability to offer our 1,500 staff competitive wages and benefits; to pay the small and mid-sized farmers, ranchers and producers we work with a fair price for their goods; to support our commitment to organic, non-GMO and local production; and, unique to us as a co-op, to return a portion of our profits back to our nearly 70,000 members.

The purpose of our member benefit program was never to reduce prices, but to encourage members to shop the co-op—as is the intended goal of “member economic participation” as stated in the Rochdale Principles that guide co-ops like ours. This principal states that members should contribute to and participate in the economic success of the co-op. We believe our new member benefit program will better help us accomplish this.


 

Related Articles

October 2018: CO-OP CORNER: EVALUATING PCC MEMBER BENEFITS

January 2019: UPDATES TO MEMBER BENEFITS

February 2019: PCC MEMBER BENEFIT UPDATE

March 2019: PCC MEMBER BENEFIT UPDATE

April 2019: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 2019: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 2019: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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