Amazon is famously secretive and vague with its stats, so we oftentimes have to look at outside sources to get a
sense guess as to how various parts of the company are doing. Like a new survey out today from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (h/t Geekwire), which estimates that as of December 31, 2018, Amazon had 101 million Prime members in the U.S.
It’s worth taking a moment to note that in a letter to shareholders last April, Amazon said it had more than 100 million Prime members worldwide. We don’t know what the mix of U.S. v. non U.S. subscribers was back then, so we can’t be sure how much of an increase this represents.
But if Consumer Intelligence’s estimates are accurate, then there are a number of implications. First is that Prime Membership in the U.S. continued to grow. Consumer Intelligence says Prime membership grew 10 percent last year, which is slower than in years past, but still significant given the size of the audience. That growth was also at a time of growing backlash against tech companies, including Amazon.
More specific to our interests here at The Spoon, that massive Prime subscriber base means more people can be “nudged” by Amazon to shop special deals at Whole Foods, do online grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, and experience same day delivery through Prime Now. Amazon Prime members can also be driven towards Amazon’s brick and mortar retail stores like the rapidly expanding cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores and the 4-Star store.
Amazon Prime membership also unlocks video and music features on the Alexa-powered devices, which can, in turn, drive loyalty to and more sales of those smart speakers and displays. There’s the obvious benefit of more direct revenue for Amazon (the company said it sold tens of millions of Alexa devices this past holiday). But it also keeps the Alexa install base at a point where smart kitchen appliance manufacturers like Samsung and LG will still want to incorporate Alexa voice controls into their devices. The more devices that use Alexa, the more Amazon can control the direction of the emerging voice control sector.
Perhaps most important, however, is that all this activity from Prime members across brick and mortar, online and mobile app orders, voice commands and appliance interaction provides Amazon with more data. This data can then be used to better understand and market to existing and potential customers, make Alexa even more useful/powerful — and generate even more Prime memberships.