Membership organisations: staying relevant

Membership organisations: staying relevant

By Freestyle


A playbook of tactics for membership organisations to take advantage of changing attitudes. Developed by Freestyle following research with over 2,000 UK adults exploring  expectations, behaviours and attitudes to memberships.

Over the last few years people have changed how they perceive and what they expect from customer experiences. People want more, but most importantly, people want better. These changes in expectations translate across all industries, including into the world of membership organisations. Freestyle started questioning what lines became blurred, where customers expected improvements and how these shifts will affect memberships long-term.

With the pandemic only accelerating this transformation, it is critical to understand the new mindset of the member, in order to identify what business opportunities lie ahead, and where value can be added to membership organisations in the future.

Freestyle interviewed 2,012 UK adults to explore expectations, attitudes and behaviours related to memberships. They focused on membership organisations where there is a regular fee for a membership which gives exclusive access to knowledge, events, discounts, networking or a physical experience. Some of the better known examples include The National Trust, English Heritage, The Caravan and Motorhome Club, National Education Union, The Women’s Institute, England Athletics, The Tate Museum, England Netball, The Green Party, etc.

Part one of this paper discusses the findings of the research and their implications, to understand the current mindset around memberships. In part two, Freestyle put forward five plays they recommend experimenting with, to help organisations thrive during and beyond chaos, and create a long-lasting positive impact.

P A R T 1

  • Exploring the challenge at hand
  • Where members find value
  • What attitudes are evolving
  • Influencers at play
  • Taking a look at 2021


P A R T 2

5 Plays to take advantage of changing customer attitudes:

  • Play 1: Aim for individualisation over personalisation
  • Play 2: Think in habits to cultivate engagement
  • Play 3: Reimagine shared experiences
  • Play 4: Identify your new competitor
  • Play 5: Experiment with your business model
  • 2021: the year of opportunity


Download the playbook 

Resource type: Research | Published: 2021