Even the Wealthy, Like Charlie Munger, Love Costco — Here's Why

Everyone loves Costco, even the super wealthy like Charlie Munger or Warren Buffett
Updated May 8, 2024
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Billionaire investor and Wall Street giant Charlie Munger left many legacies with his recent passing. He was credited as one of the most brilliant investors in history, largely due to his philosophy of cautious but advantageous ways to grow wealth and unwavering discipline in his daily life. One of his most interesting pieces of advice, that he shared often, was his deep love for shopping at Costco.

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Munger preached financial discipline like “keep your expenses low” and “avoid the dangers that will ruin you financially.” Despite his billions, one of his lifelong obsessions was frequenting Costco. Munger was the second-largest individual stockholder and a vocal advocate for the wholesale giant throughout his life. 

He considered himself a “total addict” of the retailer and famously said, "I love everything about Costco. I'm never going to sell a share.” Munger’s profound affection for the discount giant echoed his disciplined approach to his finances, shining a light onto some of the reasons that even the affluent share his love for the retailer.

Why even wealthy people love Costco

While Costco's warehouse deals are attractive for families and businesses looking for budget-friendly deals, even wealthy people are fans. 

1. Costco's value holds up against anyone, including Amazon

While Costco was slower to embrace e-commerce compared to giants like Amazon, Munger believed Costco had a unique advantage. He emphasized that people trust Costco to deliver enormous value. "Costco presents some danger to Amazon — because they've got a better reputation for providing value than practically anybody, including Amazon," Munger said.

His insight reflected the enduring trust consumers, including the affluent, place in the wholesale club and why that might spell out a better long-term investment opportunity than Amazon.

2. Loyalty to quality and value

Munger's affinity for Costco resonated deeply with affluent individuals, shedding light on the retailer's unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional quality and unmatched value. The resonance of Munger's sentiments underscores the broader appreciation among the wealthy for Costco's reliable offerings, recognizing the retailer as a stable house of consistency and value. 

Even within the echelons of substantial wealth, Costco consistently offers many low-priced products that people can depend on. The humble chicken will remain at $5 regardless of anything else happening in the world, and the hot dog’s unwavering price of $1.50, even in the face of inflation, has become retail legend. Dependable prices make planning easier.

3. Trustworthy reputation

Central to Costco's allure for affluent consumers is the profound trust instilled in the brand. Munger's insightful observation, positioning Costco's reputation above even industry giant Amazon, highlights the well-developed trust Costco has successfully created in its consumer base. Affluent individuals gravitate toward this trust, finding solace in Costco's commitment to providing value and service.

4. Operational excellence

The company's seamless and efficient operational model resonates with the astute investor and caters to the preferences of those who value their time. Costco's ability to orchestrate its operations with precision, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free shopping experience, aligns with the discerning tastes of the wealthy. In recognizing Costco's operational prowess, affluent consumers identify with a brand that mirrors their own expectations of excellence.

Beyond being a significant shareholder, Munger praised Costco's operational excellence. In early 2022, he wished for America to operate as efficiently as Costco. "I wish everything else in America worked as well as Costco does. Think what a blessing that would be for us all," he said

5. Exclusive deals and membership perks

The allure of exclusive deals and membership perks Costco offers extends to all socioeconomic levels — everyone likes to feel special. Beyond the exclusivity, the affluent recognize the pragmatic advantages of being part of the Costco membership, where the mix of premium deals and tailored perks creates an environment that resonates with their lifestyle and preferences. Higher membership levels offer even more perks, and Costco business card holders have benefits not available to everyone else.

Bottom line

Charlie Munger's love for Costco was not just about financial investment; it was a testament to his admiration for the company's values and operational prowess. As we reflect on Munger's legacy, it becomes clear why even the wealthy found common ground with the financial genius in their shared love for Costco. Munger's departure marks the end of an era, but his enduring influence on the financial world teaches consumers at all levels the importance of his disciplined principles.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.

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