Subscriptions are nothing new. In fact, they have been around since the 1600s, when enterprising book publishers, who would run periodicals, decided to take their money periodically as well. The practice continued in the book world, through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, as an increasing number of serialized books were being released, as well as magazines and journals.
And then, sometime in the 21st Century, it just sort of clicked with business people. This is a good model. It gives the customer what they want, when they want it, as conveniently as they want it, and it ensures steady revenue for the company. Now, subscription businesses are everywhere, and the unique services you can find through this model vary from amazing to… just unnecessary.
This article will look at what a subscription model is, what subscription models are out there, and which ones you can expect in the future.
What is a Subscription Model Exactly?
Rather than selling a product – often a one-time transaction – businesses sell access to products, at a periodical cost (it could be weekly, monthly, or, in rarer cases, annually). Rather than buy a bunch of power tools, for instance, a person building a house can subscribe to a “power tool library” for a monthly fee, and gain unlimited access to those tools for precisely the time they need to build their house.
In another example, convenience is optimized: Rather than shop for groceries, which requires travel and decision making, someone can subscribe to a grocery box, a curated selection of groceries they may need for the week.
The Ones You Know
You know Netflix – that’s the classic example of a company looking at the current business model (video rental stores) and deciding it can be greatly improved by subscription. You probably also know Dollar Shave Club, one of the first “box subscription” services, which would – true to their name – send you razors for a periodical payment of one dollar.
Other popular examples are ClassPass, Blue Apron, Spotify and Amazon Subscribe & Save.
The Up-and-Coming Services
You’ve probably heard that Disney is creating Disney Plus and Apple is creating Apple TV in order to compete in subscription streaming with Netflix, but those are on the boring end of the up-and-coming spectrum.
How about the fact that you can now subscribe to cars! Car subscription services like “Drive” from Auto One are the real thing, and they’re likely what you think: a service where, for a monthly price, you gain access to a fleet of different vehicles, which you can swap or renew on a monthly basis. Drive a BMW one month, and hop over to a Prius to save on gas the next month.
On the Horizon
If car subscription services are what you can get excited about now, then “sports subscription” are the thing you can look forward to. Floated around by a number of major Big 3 team franchises (18 out of 30 MLB teams, in fact) the idea is that you could pay a monthly fee for access to as many home games as you want. For sports fans, that’s like Netflix on steroids.
Expect 2020 to be a year of subscriptions. What other services, what other industries, will go the subscription route? No one can tell for certain – but it will be exciting when it happens!