Subscription Services: Freedom or Fatigue?

As consumers, we live in an era that centres around personalisation, convenience, and speed. Those are the benchmarks against which we evaluate and expect businesses to provide us with their best assortment of products or services. Periodical subscription services, be it in the shape of a box of exotic fruits or monthly access to premium digital entertainment, fit those requirements like a glove. We subscribe to numerous services in our daily lives, from the television cable to the local milk delivery service, however, it now seems like just about everything wants us to ‘opt-in’.

Subscription Services

Subscription Services Model: Why Bother?

I first noticed this phenomenon while reading upon Google’s latest offering to the gaming community, a newly-designed controller and video game streaming platform called Stadia. It was the same day I renewed my Netflix subscription, while my friends gushed over a series on Amazon Prime titled ‘Made in Heaven’. Everything, or just about everything, is one credit card payment and a click away. 

At what point does the convenience or freedom of subscription-based services become a limitation? What if we are caging ourselves in? By choosing from a limited set of options for a pre-set time period, we may be limiting ourselves from the full range of products or services that are available in the marketplace.

Maybe, we, as the consumers, are becoming lazy. We may be opting out of the chore of choosing from neverending options – at least for as long as the current subscription lasts. We need to delegate mundane or repetitive tasks to save time, energy, or effort. Subscription services give us access to specialists who are trained to do just that. From Michelin-star chefs to experienced wardrobe stylists, subscription boxes can deliver custom-designed meals and wardrobe selections for their paying members. Due to either exhaustion or an overcrowded marketplace, artificially narrowing down the possibilities makes life a little bit easier to deal with. Still, I wonder, the whole task of signing up, calculating savings or ‘ease’ of the offering, and making a multi-month commitment – Is it worth it?

Judging by the popularity of subscription services, boxed and unboxed, consumers like what they have to offer! The upfront cost for some subscriptions is neutralised (or even cancelled out) by the convenience they provide to the subscriber. Also, they save consumers lots of time from making the same decisions or purchases over and over again. As we all know, “time equals money”.

Here are some popular types of subscription-based services:

  • Movies and TV Shows On-Demand: Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Now TV.
  • Music On-Demand: Spotify.
  • Groceries: The milk, the eggs, the bread, and the avocado – it’s on your doorstep when you need it. 
  • Coffee Beans and Tea Bags: Speciality subscription services curate and deliver everything from rare chocolates to bespoke coffee and tea blends from around the globe. 
  • Ingredients in a Box:  weekly or monthly shipments with all the ingredients you need to cook gourmet meals at home.
  • Outfits in a Box: monthly shipments consisting of hand-picked, trendy clothing pieces that suit the subscriber’s personal style and lifestyle. They can keep what they like and return the rest – no questions asked!
  • Office Supplies: Printer ink, pens, paper, binders- whatever your office needs are, they all can be fulfilled on the regular. 

subscription services

Business-Speak: Product-as-a-Service Model 101

Depending on your business, the product-as-a-service model may be just what you need to improve the bottom-line. Usually, this model works best for businesses that provide their customers with access to either exclusive content or a repetitive service.  The trick is offering convenience and reliability that the customer also finds valuable.

Premium, subscription-only content can be anything like episodes, movies, courses, workshops, or even articles. The most popularly known version of this subscription service is the stream-on-demand entertainment provider Netflix. New or seasonal products on a monthly or weekly-basis can range from books, beard oils, teas, shaving creams, puzzles, and stationery. Curated subscription boxes work well as gifts to mark a special occasion. There are also mystery boxes that promise an assortment of products within a certain theme  – Harry Potter or Magical Adventure – the options are truly endless! 

Mariam Shoaibhttps://catalystwoman.com/
I write, talk and tweet about: #technology #education #gender #women #Pakistan #edutech #development #civicresponsiblity #financial #literacy

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