Consumers Tiring Of D2C Subscription Brands


Remember when the pandemic fueled America’s frenzied craving for subscription everything, from razors to dog treats to high fashion?

That’s all fading. In new research from Attest, 41% of Americans say they have an active product subscription, down from 47% nine months ago. And those with multiple subscriptions are paring back, with just 18% having more than one now, compared with 21% last year.

Meanwhile, 29% say they’ve never had a subscription -- a stat that’s unchanged from last year.

Even more troubling? Consumers seem to be losing interest in this once-novel business model, with just 14% saying they are actively shopping for a product subscription, down from 18% in the prior study.

Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix, Birch Box and Ipsy are among the brands most familiar to shoppers.



Based on responses from 2,000 working-age consumers, the survey reveals that millennials continue to be the most devoted to this business model. About 49% of those between 26 and 40 have at least one subscription, compared to 41% of the total sample. And 25% have more than one subscription.

Gen X is the most disenchanted, with 32% saying they’ve tried at least one but let it go.

By category, food and drink continue to be the most popular, at 37%, and has the broadest appeal: Just over 51% of all respondents say it’s the category that most appeals to them.

The personal care, health and fitness category comes next, tracking in at 36%. Pets come in third at 32%, showing the strongest gains. Toiletries and cosmetics are the fourth most popular category, pushing clothing and shoes down to the fifth place.

One compelling finding is that “unboxing” isn’t what it used to be. While many brands started subscription boxes as a way to surprise and delight their audiences, that’s fallen as a reason for buying a subscription. The unboxing reveal matters to just 21% of shoppers.

Instead, consumers want value, with 68% saying bang for their buck is the No. 1 concern. And in a major vote against the “Surprise me” school of thought, 54% want to choose and see the products they’re getting, and 53% look for subscriptions that are easy to pause or cancel. Great reviews impress 39%, 34% want exclusive offers, and 25% are looking for brands with a strong ethos or purpose.

Attest says its findings show there are still significant pockets of opportunity: Just 21% say they’re unlikely to buy a subscription, a drop from 27% last year.

Opportunities still exist for brands in this category, though. Despite the decline in people with subscriptions in 2021, the survey finds that 65% of Americans are open-minded to purchasing a product subscription. Only 21% say they’re unlikely to consider a subscription (down from 27% last year). Most (30%) say they’d be willing to pay between $10 to $20 a month for a new subscription (30%), and 22% say they’d be open to subscriptions priced at $21 to $30 per month. Only 11% would pay more than $41.


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