As an Amazon Associate we may earn from qualifying purchases made via links on our website.

Written in

Amazon Prime has 176 million subscribers. Here’s why it’s so popular

— “What, why should I pay Amazon when I already buy there?”

While Amazon is the undisputed e-commerce leader in the US, and you’re unlikely to find someone who has never heard of it, many Americans still don’t know about Amazon Prime. Or they don’t know why they need a subscription. While its penetration in U.S. households is staggering, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimates it reached 176 million in the fourth quarter of 2023. This was an increase from a previous estimate by CIRP, which wrote that the number of Amazon Prime users had dropped to 167 million, down from 170 million in 2022.

Some analysts say Amazon has hit a ceiling, with 64% of U.S. adults signing up for Amazon Prime. Others say there’s still room to grow, albeit slower. But the fact is, almost every American has signed up for Amazon Prime. And there are those among your acquaintances who have an Amazon Prime subscription.

But some still don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription or have given up on it. It would seem that $139 for a year or $14.99 a month (equivalent to $180 for a year) isn’t a lot of money to think about for too long, especially considering all the benefits you get with Amazon Prime. But many Americans don’t want to pay that money, justifying it in various ways. Louis Caroline says she doesn’t see the point in paying for something she already uses. “I don’t know much about the benefits of Amazon Prime. Faster shipping and discounts, if I’m not mistaken. But I think it should be available to everyone, especially since shipping costs money as it is. I don’t see the point of monthly payments to order emergency battery delivery once a few months.”

Other users are more adamant about whether they need Amazon Prime. Some say they gave up on Amazon Prime after Prime Video started showing ads. Veronika Rubtsova, who used a Prime subscription in her household, says, “We didn’t use the other offerings that come with Prime very often, but we always kept the subscription for Prime Video. Not that we watch it often; we still prefer Netflix, but some exclusives are only available on Amazon. After news broke that there would be ads, my husband decided to give up Prime.”

What do you get with Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime has a great business model built on the fact that it doesn’t cover any particular need. This sets Amazon Prime apart from the hundreds of other subscriptions we deal with daily. When you subscribe to Netflix, you’re subscribing to Streaming. You can access that newspaper or its website when you subscribe to a newspaper.

But Amazon Prime has gone much further, combining many features essential to many people into one subscription. Here’s a list of them:

  • Free same-day delivery with Amazon
  • Free Amazon Prime one-day delivery
  • Try before you buy
  • Unlimited Amazon Photo Storage
  • Amazon Prime Video access
  • Free Music
  • Free books with Amazon Prime Reading
  • Prime Early Access
  • Fast grocery delivery
  • Prime Day Deals
  • Advanced re-ordering features
  • In-garage/in-gate delivery
  • Returns via Kohl’s
  • Returns or pick-ups with Amazon Prime
  • Advanced options to choose the delivery day
  • Discounts in Amazon Stores
  • Prime Gaming access
  • Way to save content in Prime Video to watch later
  • Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh discounts

This is by no means a complete list of what you get. Other benefits are much less obvious. But even this list illustrates well that you are not signing up for something specific (such as same-day delivery). For a relatively small amount of money, you’re getting a lot of different perks, each of which may suit you specifically. This is what sets Amazon Prime apart from any other subscription because it not only gives you access to discounts on Amazon Prime Day, but it also opens up additional features like access to Amazon Gaming, gives you additional discounts at Amazon physical stores, offers advanced try-before-you-buy options, and gives you access to Amazon Prime Video.

Jessica Silverstein, a subscriber since 2019, says Amazon Prime is a must-have subscription in her household. “I may not use all the features, but I shop on Amazon a lot, and with Prime, I have extra options,” she says.

That said, Amazon Prime is quite difficult to cancel, and canceling takes many clicks and is not obvious. That said, Amazon tries to keep you from canceling Prime by suggesting you switch to monthly payments if you were an annual subscriber or vice versa if you signed up for a monthly subscription.

Some people have a subscription but don’t even use it

The peculiarity of the subscription is that many people have it but don’t use it. John Malkowitz says, “We have a Prime subscription in our household, but I can’t remember the last time we used it. My daughter occasionally watches Prime Video, like watching Rings of Power.” That said, their household has been paying for Amazon Prime since 2019 but rarely uses its benefits.

Prime offers advanced delivery and shopping options from Amazon that you may need at a particular moment. The only way to get them at that moment is to purchase a subscription. According to C+R Research, 42% of people forget to cancel subscriptions they don’t need.

With Amazon Prime, this adds an extra chance that people won’t cancel a subscription even if they don’t need it because extra features can be needed at any moment, such as getting fast delivery of a gift or items that are needed as soon as possible (the proverbial batteries).

Additionally, many people are impressed with the discounts they can get with Amazon Prime, increasing the amount they buy, especially on Amazon Prime Days. For many Americans, this makes a subscription a thing that remains indispensable if they want to buy items at a substantial discount. It also gives Amazon a very important competitive advantage, increasing people’s engagement in its ecosystem by mixing different offers into one subscription.

If you have a Prime subscription, you probably occasionally browse items on Amazon and use other services like Prime Video. My leading streaming service is Netflix, but I occasionally watch exclusives to Prime Video just because I have the option.

Amazon Prime is a fantastic lever that has become the new loyalty formula. Statistics show that 80% of Prime subscribers browse items on Amazon at least once a week, and nearly half make a purchase.

And today, Amazon is Prime, and Prime is Amazon. It’s the cornerstone of the entire system that creates an impressive advantage for Amazon.