Private members’ clubs have been part of the British landscape since the late 17th century. They may have changed in their aims (and members’ behaviours) but they are still true to a key principle common to many private members’ clubs: exclusivity.

Private members clubs may range from the contemporary, fashionable water holes to the familiar, wood-panelled comfort of the gentlemen’s club scene. However, common to all is the essence of their offering…an exclusive and coveted haven, a comfortable space to relax with friends. In London, in addition to the more established private members clubs, they have been joined by a new wave of trendy clubs with bespoke or themed lounges, dining rooms, private rooms and night clubs.

Many of these clubs have memberships with a waiting list of years, rather than months. Others struggle to retain the interest of their members and attract new ones. They find themselves grappling with social media, emerging trends in technology, and a market positioning that may need updating. Their brand identity may have taken a battering from a dwindling brand footprint and a younger generation that still wants exclusivity but is also looking unique and stunning venues with a wow factor, somewhere where they can hang out with colleagues, clients and friends.

Membership thrives when there is a perceived value attached to the offering. If members feel that the value is decreasing, they will not renew but will move on to other clubs. Findings in a recent report on membership organisations indicated that during 2010, price was not the top driver responsible for non-renewals – contrary to findings in the 2009 study. In fact, one-third of the respondents believed that members did not renew because they perceived a lack of value in the organization. This was an increase of about 80% over the previous year.

So what is the solution? Free memberships? Exclusive events? How do you control the calibre of your membership list yet attract enough new members to stay profitable, exclusive and “coveted”?

There are 130 private members’ clubs in London alone, and the driver behind any successful club is to foster loyalty among your VIP members, remain exciting in your offering yet still cater to their tastes. A tall order but a significantly important factor to retain and recruit the right calibre of members.

Market Accents has been working with membership organisations and private members’ clubs for many years. We have successfully created brand identities and communication programmes based on targeted segmentation, an understanding of members’ requirements and a pulse on the market. For more information, kindly contact us at We are always happy to have a chat.