Survey Says: Prime Subscribers Love the Shipping, But Not Much Else

Amazon has tried to brand Prime as a content subscription, but shipping is overwhelmingly what makes shoppers sign up.
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Amazon likes to talk up the many benefits of subscribing to its Amazon Prime program. Along with free 2-day shipping on many Amazon purchases, Prime members enjoy free access to a selection of streaming movies, TV shows, and music, as well as monthly eBook rentals. And in many ways, Amazon has promoted these perks more than the free shipping itself, pushing the content as a major selling point for the service.

But are these perks really the reason that people are subscribing to Prime? Last week, DealNews asked more than 1,600 Amazon Prime subscribers whether they took advantage of these perks, and if they paid for similar services elsewhere. As it turns out, free content is appreciated, but nowhere near as dominant a draw as the original purpose to Prime: free shipping.

Check out the results below, and be sure to read our guide on how to get an extra month of Prime for free.

Free Shipping is Amazon Prime's Biggest Draw

Unsurprisingly, 100% of Prime subscribers surveyed said they use Prime shipping. What's more, 75% of members said they didn't subscribe to another shipping service, such as ShopRunner. Of the 25% that said they did use another company, Prime was still their preferred shipping service. However, free shipping would prove to be the only major Prime service that subscribers preferred.

Video Streaming is Popular, But Users Prefer Netflix

While 81% of Prime subscribers said they used Instant Video to stream movies and TV shows, a whopping 79% said they use another paid video streaming service more often. Amazon may be setting its sights on Netflix and its 31 Emmy nominations by producing original content, but Netflix is still the preferred video streamer for 52% of Amazon's Prime members.

Only 31% of the Prime subscribers we polled said they'd used Prime Music, Amazon's nascent streamer that looks to compete with the likes of Pandora and Spotify. That said, only 30% of respondents admitted to paying for any music streaming service. This suggests that Prime members would rather listen to free, ad-supported music streams with larger catalogs.

Amazon seems to have a mild edge over eBook rental services such as Oyster or Scribd: while a mere 31% of members reported use of the Kindle Lending Library, only 2% said they have a paid subscription to an eBook rental program elsewhere.

Prime Members Are Okay With Spending More

One of the most surprising findings from the poll is that 88% of Amazon Prime subscribers say they're spending more money at Amazon since signing up for Prime. Furthermore, 73% are fine with this because they believe that they're "saving more money in the long run." Only 15% believe they're spending more and saving less, and another 11% say they aren't spending more.

The 15% of Prime subscribers who say they're spending more money at Amazon's site, but aren't saving more in the long run, might seem like a paradox. Why don't they just quit the program? "Once folks sign up for Prime, every shopping decision begins at," DailyFinance explained, noting that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has described Prime as a bucket that doesn't leak. "Without giving numbers, Bezos made it clear that once folks try Prime, they don't cancel." While the article suggests that Amazon's digital offerings have a lot to do with subscriber retention, our poll data shows that it's all about the shipping.

See the graphic below for the full results of our poll.


Readers, are you surprised that Prime's non-shipping benefits aren't as dominant? Do you subscribe to multiple services for shipping and streaming? Share your opinions in the comments below!

Michael Bonebright
Former Senior Blog Editor

Michael added the finishing touches to most of the Blog articles on DealNews. His work has appeared on sites like Lifehacker, the Huffington Post, and MSN Money. See him rant about video games by following him on Twitter @ThatBonebright.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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um... amazon and Netflix for video streaming are two different beasts. its like comparing a book store (amazon) and a lending library (Netflix). come on. you want to watch a movie on amazon, and 9 times out of 10 its going to be 2.99 or more. what the hell. so no. amazon is NOT competition for Netflix. shipping is the only real reason I'm on prime. one purchase a month and I figure I break even.. and that's easy when the selection is *everything* in production anywhere.
Only use Amazon prime for shipping, Netflix is choice for streaming.
Hi JustMe,
Yes I spend a lot at Amazon. I live in a rural area & for $3.60 gallon gas, I try to keep myself "out of town" except on Mondays when I have a weekly doctors appointment & do everything & pick up everything I need that day.
I buy a lot of Subscribe & Save from Amazon, many things I might would buy in town, but WalMart is not offering me 13% off my purchase. Amazon does. (I subtract the 7% tax rate, leaving me with 13% off). I am also welcome to shop at Amazon in my PJ's & every time I get the closest parking space to the door.
What I am saying is that by the time I figure up what I would spend buying the same items I need each month, I come out ahead buying from Amazon.
I am also a lot less stressed not having to drive with some of the kamikaze drivers doing the Hwy. 501 South 500 at 5:00 PM.
Great discussion.
Have a great weekend JustMe & everyone!
Jeff Somogyi (DealNews)
If they expanded their Kindle lending library to include more books I want to read, I'd use that.
Plus, you can't even browse Lending Library titles online, so it's a hassle.
Sadly, Google and Amazon don't play nicely together any more. Google tv came with an Amazon app, but it doesn't allow instant streaming since they created Google Play. Before this became a problem, I tried Prime for the trial period, but cancelled because of the limited offerings that were included, like others have mentioned. It seemed like whatever I wanted to watch was still going to cost extra. Hulu is good, but sometimes the steaming is glitchy for me. I love Netflix and every month I know I get my money's worth.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@latintrident "Ultimately, my loyalty is to my wallet." --> I love that!
I've had Prime since the beginning and love it. I canceled Netflix because I felt the Prime selections were very close to Netflix plus with Amazon, I have the added ability to rent a more recent movie. The streaming music was just added so I think the survey results are a bit premature. I've tried the music but just haven't had a chance to play with it more.
I cancelled my Google Play unlimited music account and signed up for Prime instead. Honestly, I regret it. Google Play had way more music and it actually worked. I have a Galaxy S2 and Amazon won't stream the music via the app but will let me download it to my phone. Oh well. Hopefully it'll get much better in time. The Kindle lending library is kind of confusing to use and I find difficult to navigate. It'd be nice if they increased the amount of books one could "borrow" to 2 or 3 total. I do use the video streaming service quite a bit. Not as expansive as Netflix or Hulu (I use both) but still offers good content. I use Netflix most, than Amazon, and lastly Hulu. I like Prime but I also like Targets price matching with Amazon. Tied with the Red Card perk, I only pay 1% tax but can walk away from the store with what I want. Ultimately, my loyalty is to my wallet :)
I bought Prime last year for the free 2-day shipping. Don't use any other feature.
I've been a prime member for many years, and love the free shipping. I also love the music streaming--I think it's even more of a deal than the free shipping. I have a kindle and use the lending library often. Since I have Netflix, I rarely look at the Prime streaming options. I, too, have been disappointed in finding the videos I really want to watch are not prime eligible. Anyone tried the "Prime Pantry" perk?
I subscribed just before the price increase to try out the streaming service, which thus far I don't use as much as Netflix. I find it frustrating that a lot of what I would like to watch is not Prime covered that I would have to pay extra to watch. At least with Netflix, not 100% but a lot, what's not available for streaming can be had on DVD, without extra charge. I *am* looking forward to sampling the HBO content, though.

I don't buy very much from Amazon or anywhere--my income won't support it--so I couldn't justify the cost for the free shipping alone, but I appreciate it more than I thought I would. When I do want something it's a relief to be able just to order it without having to consider the added cost, or what else I might get at the same time to bring it up to the free shipping level.
just me
I meant 73%, not 85... :)
just me
The 15% who are spending more aren't saving more because of the items they may regularly buy offer free shipping already? They may just like the faster delivery. Also, with the new Amazon policy of WAITING for a "scheduled" free shipping (even after you spend $35), you may not see your item for a month! So you're kind of forced into the pay-per-Prime... and hence WON'T save money in the long run, you just get your stuff "normal" speed. I think the 85% are the target market of impulse shoppers who are made to believe if they spend more they save more, which is actually the TRUE paradox... You spent MORE... you're not saving! lol
How did I miss the survey? LOL. I stream video and now music without using another service. The video is the reason why I keep it.