There are innumerable ways in which digital tech has transformed the way we shop, eat, and entertain ourselves. For example, the rise of streaming has transformed the film industry and the rise of digital payments technology has changed commerce and the way we buy everything from groceries to online games. One tech revolution that gets comparatively less coverage, but is no less influential, is the rise of the so-called subscription economy.
While subscription services of various kinds have existed for close to a century, the past ten years have seen truly explosive growth. The overall market for online subscription services is now estimated to be worth a staggering $478 billion worldwide by 2025, up from $13 billion in 2018.
Meanwhile, there are more than 3,500 subscription box businesses in the US alone, a figure that is due to rise substantially in the years to come. Essentially, the subscription economy has changed pretty much everything about how we consume. Here are a few examples of how the subscription economy has affected our lives on a daily basis.
In order to illustrate just how widespread the subscription economy really is, let’s look at the most prominent industries that have been truly transformed by this business model in recent years.
One of the earliest adopters of the subscription model is the beauty industry. With the rise of MUA (makeup artist) celebrities and content creators, the beauty industry quickly realized that customers wanted to try as wide a range of products as possible, rather than sticking to the same products time and time again.
Following in the steps of top-tier influencers like NikkieTutorials and James Charles, major brands such as Mac, Nix, and even Rihanna’s luxury brand Fenty now offer monthly beauty box subscriptions as standard protocol.
The rise of online grocery shopping has completely taken over the food sector, but it was the health foods and meal prep niches that were the first to embrace online food delivery through the use of subscription boxes. With these, customers can receive a changing selection of high-quality, healthy foods on a weekly or monthly basis.
Top brands that currently dominate the billion-dollar, food subscription box market include the likes of HelloFresh, Sun Basket, and Blue Apron. Meanwhile, food takeout platforms such as Postmates allow paying subscribers to get free delivery on all meals in exchange for a monthly fee.
There’s no denying the extent to which mainstream media has been completely upended by the subscription model. The likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime enjoy hundreds of millions of paying subscribers, many of whom are signing up to access exclusive content commissioned by those platforms. Hefty Hollywood studios are now also switching their business models accordingly, as evidenced by the likes of DisneyPlus opting to offer their top productions (such as the MCU films) via streaming, instead of a theatrical run.
The online casino industry is one of the fastest-growing on the planet, worth tens of billions of dollars a year. The top platforms have transformed the industry by offering hundreds of slots, poker, blackjack, and bingo games all in one place, available to paying customers. The gambling sector also pioneered a tactic now used by many other subscription sites – the use of free bonuses and products to entice new customers.
A quick glance at this guide to the top no deposit casino bonuses, where new players can enjoy hundreds of dollars worth of free casino gaming, shows just how widespread this business practice truly is.
Changing Consumer Expectations
The rise of the subscription economy has transformed not only entire business models but also consumer expectations. Increasingly, choice-hungry consumers expect to access a full range of products and services, rather than paying full price one thing at a time.
In addition, they expect instant gratification, with a ready-made suite of products available to them at just the touch of a button. Subscription services have also further improved their customer relations by collapsing consumer geographies, with most platforms offering instant access to subscribers all over the world, all in exchange for a small fee.
Meanwhile, the standard industry practice of offering freebies (such as free trials and free boxes) to new customers shows just how effective the subscription model is since all platforms are willing to invest in substantial giveaways in order to get people on board.
It’s clear that the subscription economy is not going away anytime soon. The only question that remains is which industries are next in line to be reshaped by this innovative way of offering products and services.