REI and Customer Loyalty

In an never ending search to bring you interesting information about world class companies, I wanted to share the story of REI (Recreational Equipment Inc); a chain of sporing goods stores with over $1.4 billion in annual sales employing over 9500 employees. REI has been ranked in the top 100 Companies to work for in the United States by Fortune Magazine since 1998, which earned them a place in the Fortune Magazine’s “Hall of Fame”. REI ranked as #12 in 2009.[3]

Lloyd and Mary Anderson founded REI in Seattle, Washington in 1938. The Andersons imported an Academ Pickel ice axe from Austria for themselves, and decided to set up a cooperative to help outdoor enthusiasts acquire good quality climbing gear at reasonable prices. However, in the 1980s, with changes to its Board of Directors, the emphasis shifted toward family camping and branched out into kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports. Clothing, particularly “sport casual” clothes, also became a greater part of the company’s product line. Although the company is still a cooperative, providing special services to its members, the “co-op” moniker has been dropped from much of its literature and advertising as it solicits business from the general public, even if they are not members.

Now here is the twist and here is how they develop a VERY loyal following

There is a one-time fee of $20 for lifetime membership to the co-op. REI normally pays an annual dividend check to its members equal to 10% of what they spent at REI on regular-priced merchandise in the prior year. The refund, which expires on December 31 two years from the date of issue, can be used as credit for further purchases or taken as cash or check between July 1 and December 31 of the year that the dividend is valid. Summaries of the financial statements are mailed with the member’s dividend statement and are posted on the REI website.

Members are able to buy returned/used/damaged goods at significant discounts. Other benefits of REI membership include discounts on rentals and shop services, as well as rock wall access at locations that feature indoor climbing walls.

How can you apply this kind of marketing strategy to you bowling center or entertainment center? A store that gives money back to its customers for future purchases. If you think this is a great concept and you would like to implement something like this for your entertainment center or bowling center go to “” and see for yourself what the future of bowling/entertainment marketing looks like.

About Fred Kaplowitz
Marketing is in my DNA. I love to solve problems and meet challenges head on and I have successfully produced results for hundreds of clients. I love what I do and love helping to make my clients more successful and happier. I am a husband and father, consultant, a coach, a teacher, a motivator, a copy- writer, and a speaker. I look forward to working with anyone searching for a proven methodology out of mediocrity. May I assist you in taking your business to the next level. Please call me now @ 516 359 4874 to review your business goals and strategies.

1 Comment on REI and Customer Loyalty

  1. I agree to a point. The only problem I have with the program is that when its busy, you just have another thing to ask customers. We have given out 1500 cards, and only 400 have activated the cards through email. Think in terms of a service employee; a person comes in. You have provide the best deal for them, get shoes, walk them to a lane, collect cash up front perhaps, plus use another computer to add rewards. When you have a bunch of people in line waiting, how can you provide quality service by doing all those things in a timely manner? It has its benefits, but I personally have not had much success with it. Not that I'm not continuing to try it though.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.