What is it about Costco that keeps members coming back for more? Is it the discounted organic chicken? The opportunity to buy paper goods galore in bulk? Something else? Answer: All of the above.

Though slashed prices are certainly a major draw to the retail giant, Costco isn’t just successful because of its reduced prices on goods. In fact, the very notion of its success is perhaps best summed up by ASAE: “Membership, association style, is more than just a discount package or a subscription. It’s about belonging. Every member benefits for being part of the group, and the group benefits with every new member. It’s about collective action and achieving what individual members can’t accomplish on their own.”

In short, Costco employs simple strategies to understand and empower its members. A curated inventory; specific strategies targeting members; clear differentiated membership offers; and pricing that makes sense work together to build loyalty and profit.

Associations would do well to heed and mine these strategies for possible parallels within their own programs. For example, continuing education represents an estimated $160 billion industry, which means associations have a unique opportunity to capitalize on their status as the go-to source for professional development.

Yet, as revealed in our Member Professional Development Study, contrasts exists between what members want from their organizations and what is actually provided. For instance, most members want education and training to be all-inclusive in membership dues, but only one-third of associations take this approach.

A further finding in our study reveals Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce, first turn to their employers for professional education. This means associations are missing a valuable opportunity to engage this demographic, and realignment is needed to understand what attracts them to professional development programs. The influence of pricing and packaging on participation cannot be overstated.

Interested? Join me next Tuesday, June 27 at 2 p.m. ET for “The Costco Effect Part 2: Professional Development Pricing and Packaging Strategies.” You’ll learn how to align continuing education pricing and packaging with what members want, generational preferences for professional education training, and strategies you can start implementing today to keep members coming back to your association for their professional development needs … and more!