The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Walt Disney Co. has been holding internal discussions about the possible creation of an Amazon Prime-style membership program that would cut across all its platforms and offerings - theme parks, streaming, stores, resorts - offering discounts and perks.
According to the story, "Discussions at Disney are in the early stages. It couldn’t be learned how much the company would charge for membership and how long it would take to launch such a program.
"By creating a membership program, Disney would be betting it could offer customers more value, prompting them to spend more on the company’s products and services, while providing Disney with a trove of information about their preferences."
Internally, the Journal writes, the program is being referred to as "Disney Prime," though that is unlikely to be the name used if and when it is launched.
“Technology is giving us new ways to customize and personalize the consumer experience so that we are delivering entertainment, experiences and products that are most relevant to each of our guests,” Kristina Schake, senior executive vice president and chief communications officer at Disney, said in a prepared statement. “A membership program is just one of the exciting ideas that is being explored.”
- KC's View:
Amazon ought to ask for royalties from all the companies that have decided, with good reason, that they ought to have Prime-style programs - from the moment that Amazon launched it, Prime has been game-changing, creating an environment in which Amazon becomes the default first and often best choice for its best shoppers. And, as we all know, Prime members spend a lot more on Amazon than non-Prime members, which means that best customers become even better customers. It is its own kind of flywheel.
The only problem I see with Disney doing this is that it is a company that already has raised many of its prices beyond what seems reasonable - I'm very glad that I don't have little kids yearning to visit Disneyland or Disney World, because I might have to take out a second mortgage. Disney often seems like a company that ought to replace its slogan, "where dreams come true," ought to be replaced by, "we're back for more cash." And so, in creating such a program - which in the Amazon iteration seems like the world's biggest and best loyalty program, in the words of Jeff Bezos, a program with so many benefits that it seems irresponsible not to join - Disney needs to figure out how it is going to make that case to its customers.
One other thing - the most important phrase in the Journal story is this one: "…while providing Disney with a trove of information about their preferences."
Any customer-facing business that does not have actionable data about its shoppers, and then actually acts on it, is guilty of retail malpractice, in my view.