On-Demand, Subscription Services: The New Way of Doing Business
The days of owning a vast collection of video games, CDs, DVDs, and other physical copies that line the shelves and contain all the sources of entertainment for the household seem to be drifting away behind us, if not mostly gone already. Nowadays it seems as though everything can be taken care of by some kind of subscription service for a monthly fee. Groceries, movies, clothes, software, so many things have become available to us through the use of subscriptions, even Taco Bell is giving customers a free taco each day as long as they pay the $10 monthly fee (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/06/business/taco-bell-subscription/index.html). Streaming movies and music has become the norm for many people as it gives people access to more content than they could ever hope to access in their lifetime each month for a fee that often costs less than buying one physical copy of a movie or album. Many consumers in today’s market value access more than they value ownership of physical items and feel less like the products they own define who they are. Subscribing to a service grants consumers access to the experiences that they desire without having to worry about the burden of actually owning them. Now that consumers have gotten the feel for the convenience that subscription services offer them in today’s hurried society, they want to have that convenience with everything they do (https://emarsys.com/learn/blog/the-rise-of-the-subscription-and-on-demand-economies/).
E-commerce has taken over the way that companies do business and fostered the expectation among consumers that their products and services can be made available to them just by tapping the screen on their smartphone. Mobile phones provide people with a device that is a hub for the various apps and websites that offer on-demand services, granting them access wherever and whenever they might need them. The ascension of fast home delivery is another factor that has made on-demand services a more feasible option for consumers. Many of these newer subscription-based services have been able to adapt faster to online and social media marketing, with more ease than traditional retailers, to help them attract customers. This has helped them stay at the front of consumers’ minds, especially younger ones who are more used to the fast-paced, service-oriented lifestyle that is becoming the norm in today’s society (https://www.deptagency.com/insight/the-rising-power-of-subscription-services/). Many subscription services, especially ones that provide music and entertainment, also offer customers a degree of personalization by curating song, album, movie, and TV show recommendations based on their listening or viewing history. This is something that consumers are drawn to and keeps them coming back for more each month, as they build a digital profile of themselves and their personality through the things that they enjoy.
In addition to the efforts of companies pushing their subscription services and the technological advances that have fostered the expectation of instant gratification among consumers, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to shift their business models and has changed the way that many consumers make their purchases. While people were confined to their households to avoid catching and spreading COVID, the service industry suffered greatly and had to adapt to survive. Restaurants, supermarkets, and even manufacturers began to focus on reaching people through direct-to-consumer (DTC) models, finding new ways to reach their customers in their homes and consequently tapping into new sources of revenue. An invigorated fixation on personal health increased the demand for home-workout services such as Peloton, grocery delivery services helped people replenish toiletries, food, and other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and already popular food delivery and entertainment services grew exponentially (https://www.deptagency.com/insight/the-rising-power-of-subscription-services/). This growth is something that is expected to continue, even as COVID restrictions are lifted, an article from the Washington Post states that, “the UBS financial services firm predicts that this ‘subscription economy’ will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025, more than double the $650 billion it’s estimated to be worth now” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/01/subscription-boom-pandemic/).
There are many benefits that consumers gain from subscribing to an on-demand service, and the companies that offer these services can gain some valuable assets from providing them as well. First off, by offering customers a subscription, companies can generate more upfront revenue that is guaranteed if they make an effort to know their audience and develop a relationship with them so that they stay subscribed. According to Forbes, “brand matters to just 22% of online shoppers,” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/08/12/whats-behind-the-rise-of-the-subscription-model/?sh=fda6d7e35c31) so consumers are willing to switch brands if it means that products can be obtained for a good price and conveniently, both of which are factors that will draw consumers to subscription services and make the market for them more competitive. This is why it is so important for businesses trying to utilize a subscription service to focus on ways to retain subscribers and make them feel as though their needs are taken care of, given the fact that, as Dept Agency states, “nearly 40% of subscribers of any service type cancel in less than three months, and over half cancel within six” (https://www.deptagency.com/insight/the-rising-power-of-subscription-services/). By getting consumers to subscribe also means that they are more likely to engage with the brand that they are subscribed to, instead of a competitor, in an effort to justify the cost of the subscription they are paying, further cementing their loyalty to the brand. The relationship that companies build with their customers through a subscription is all built upon something that is incredibly valuable to businesses, first-party consumer data. By offering a subscription service and allowing users to build a profile of themselves and what interests them, businesses are able to track the preferences of their customers and gain insight into which of their products are selling the best, especially if that service is available as a mobile app. 90% of consumers’ daily digital minutes are spent on a mobile device, so smartphones are one of the best ways to connect with your audience (https://emarsys.com/learn/blog/the-rise-of-the-subscription-and-on-demand-economies/). The more that consumers interact with your service or your app the more data you will be able to obtain from them and from there build an accurate profile of your subscribers and what they desire, allowing you to cater to their needs and more easily maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with them.
On-demand and subscription services are a trend that businesses are adopting at a rapid pace and cannot be ignored. Subscriptions allow for new ways for brands to deliver their products and services to their customers while using data from those customers to constantly improve themselves. The more your company knows about the people it’s serving, the better it can maintain relationships with them and increase profits.