The Price Of Convenience: What Consumers Want From Subscription Services

Subscription services are gaining ground — especially those that offer clothing, music and TV fare.

But first brands must master the subscription purchase funnel, which may be different from the funnel they’re used to, according to "The Subscriber’s Dilemma: From 'More Please' to 'No Thanks,'" a study by Digitas' intelligence hub Vera. 

Contrary to belief, for example, there is no need to overwhelm prospects with exclusive content — 81% say they don’t need it when deciding to subscribe, although they may welcome it later. And many see a total lack of ads as an attractive feature. 

But here is the real point: Don’t bother even trying subscription marketing unless you’ve got a robust email operation. 

Of the consumers polled, 68% prefer to hear from subscription companies via email. In contrast, 23% prefer text messages, while 17% choose ads on social media platforms, and 15% welcome TV ads



Only 9% wish for push notifications, and 8% don’t want to hear from companies at all after they have subscribed. And a paltry 3% like chatbots.

The email component was discussed last year in an interview by Jim Fosina, founder of Fosina Marketing, a subscription specialist acquired last November by Digital Media Solutions.

“One of the most essential parts of subscription marketing is how you stay in touch with the customer,” Fosina said.

He added: “One type of email is self-help — come online and manage the account. That’s passive. The second is more of a nudging type of email contact strategy: Did you know we have this new product line? Are you aware your next shipment is coming?"

Clothing/accessories and music are the most popular, cited by 35% each, according to Digitas. Running a close second to those is the TV/movie vertical, cited by 34%. 

Of the TV/movie enthusiasts, 53% have more than one subscription, vs. only 21% of Pet Food/Supplies subscribers — this group is loyal to one brand.

Gaming is next in popularity, with 31% citing it. Grocery is liked by 27%. And 24% sign up for prepared meal services.

The products deemed most valuable are slightly different:  TV/movie (74%), music (45%), gaming (26%), grocery (23%) and transportation (20%).

Parents are most likely to subscribe to all the categories.

Fosina noted that there is also “a huge demand for replenishment services, especially among millennials — point, click receive And it’s for necessary products — needs as opposed to desires. We call it brown bag services.” 

Millennials are twice as likely to sign up if they have received validation from their peers. And 43% of millennials and GenXers say they can’t live without their TV/movie subscriptions — twice the number of older subscribers.

What causes churn? These issues drive people to drop out:

  • Renewal cost increase — 56%
  • Lack of use — 53%
  • Extra costs not included as part of the subscription — 49%
  • Ability to access the same content elsewhere without needing a subscription — 36%
  • Slow apps/downloads — 30% 

What attracts people?

  • Access to large variety/selection — 49%
  • Saving money — 46%
  • Not having to deal with ads — 39%
  • Access to free content — 36%

What do you need? Digitas argues that “a data management platform (DMP), paired with a holistic communications map across all consumer touchpoints, can help brands begin to break down the isolation silos that lead to a fragmented customer experience.

Vera, the Digitas intelligence hub, commissioned the survey. The Harris Poll surveyed over 2,000 consumers, 1,400 of home now have subscriptions.


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