Amazon.com likes to keep Wall Street guessing. The company is notoriously stingy with its disclosures. It’s never released sales data on major product lines like the Kindle, for instance. And the company’s never disclosed the membership base for its $99-a-year Prime program. Until yesterday. In his annual letter to shareholders, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wrote that Prime had exceeded 100 million members globally, adding that “more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S.”
The figure shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Wall Street analysts already (and it seems quite accurately) estimated that Amazon had 104.7 million total Prime members at the end of 2017, according to Visible Alpha Consensus Data.
Bezos didn’t break down the U.S. portion of the Prime base but Visible Alpha has those estimates too: 69.6 million at 2017 year end. Now that we know analysts are in the ballpark, it’s worth considering how impressive the numbers are.
There are 126 million households in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census — apparently 55% of them subscribe to Prime. Analysts expect U.S. Prime memberships to grow another 16% this year to 81.3 million, according to Visible Alpha. That would bring Prime’s “penetration” to a rather stunning 65% of U.S. households.
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