The State of Subscription in 2021 and Future Predictions

August 25, 2021
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Emmanuel Umukoro

The subscription economy is expanding, and almost any service you can think of is now available as a subscription. Subscriptions to digital news and media have increased by 300% in the last few years. This has resulted in a global uptick in enterprises attempting to keep up with customer preferences. The Global Subscription Management Platform/Software Market is predicted to expand by nearly 100% in the coming years. To give you a sneak peek, Netflix alone has generated $6.14 billion in 2021 alone though there are still months ahead to generate more before the year ends.


Before you conclude that subscription is but a charade for big brands like Netflix, let’s go through the subscription ecosystem so you can see other exceptional success stories across three industries before we discuss popular subscription trends of 2021.


1. Meal Subscription

Convenience-based subscription models include meal-kit providers like HelloFresh and Blue Apron. Because they must deal with fresh food products and keep in fresh, those offering food service in the subscription ecosystem perhaps face the most challenge, but a lot of emerged success because of the convenience and freshness they promise.


2. Monthly Subscription Box

Subscription boxes are perhaps one of the most interesting and popular methods for end-users to try new products on a monthly basis, and merchants like Stitch Fix excel at it. The subscription box strategy is unique in that it distinguishes itself from the competition by offering customers the most unique experiences because of the flexibility of the Curation Subscription model.


3. Content Streaming Service

The most well-known example of the subscription business model is arguably content streaming services. By utilizing the growth potential of subscriptions, company like Spotify has developed an immensely successful business. Spotify and Netflix are excellent instances of lowering churn while also promoting their own original content.


Top Subscription Trends for 2021 and Beyond

1. Personalization is Evolving

In every sector, personalization will never go out of fashion. It's one of the most important factors in increasing income predictability and lowering churn in the subscription business. Subscription merchants will continue to personalize offers for loyal consumers, engage with customers more intimately by recording previous correspondence and purchase history, and give customers more control over their communication preferences.


2. Usage Based Billing

Subscription firms have begun charging less for content consumed below a particular threshold in order to reduce subscription weariness. Throughout 2021, two plans will be popular: a low-cost entry-level plan for low-use accounts, and a regular plan for content consumption above a certain threshold.


Cloud companies like AWS have been practicing a usage-based billing model, so has Spotify. Spotify charges half their subscription price for their Premium plan ($4.99 instead of $9.99) for up to four hours of audio per month. Anything above the threshold of 4 hours would then be automatically charged the regular price.


3. Prioritize Loyalty

Because high emotional involvement leads to higher brand affiliation, most traditional loyalty programs are being replaced by behavioral and emotion-based loyalty programs. This is the reason customer loyalty is decreasing - customers are demanding more and the competition is on the rise.


A successful example is Amazon Prime: its members spend 4.6 times more because of instant gratification, and Amazon's premium loyalty program provides consumers with instant incentives.


4. Focus on Retention

With subscription businesses increasing by the day, and consumer needs changing quickly, it's more important than ever to keep subscribers. Customers who have previously purchased from you are up to 70% more likely to do so again.


5. Services as Subscription

By 2023, 75% of all direct-to-consumer businesses will provide some form of subscription service. Large businesses are investing heavily in subscription box services because they can easily save them the cost of setting up a physical store. Furthermore, in response to the competition, there is an increasing mountain number of brown boxes in the market, such as book subscriptions, groceries replenishment, food deliveries, beauty boxes, and so on.


6. Priority on User Experience

69% of Americans have several subscriptions, with 27% planning to raise their number as soon as possible. The race to create the best possible user experience is heating up. 2021 has been a year of flawless subscription user experience, starting with straightforward and innovative interfaces, mobile optimization, and frictionless checkout.


7. Region-specific Subscription (Geo-targeting)

Global subscription companies are becoming more sensitive to their clients' local needs and abandon the one-size-fits-all strategy. YouTube, for instance, has multiple plans targeted to different areas' audiences. As companies improve their offers for multiple markets in 2021, expect more corporations to follow this way.


8. Data and Analytics

Many novel and well-designed subscription management tools with data management and visualization have been available throughout 2021. Their main goal is to help organizations identify the most popular subscription plans, as well as their overall revenue, by providing predictive, proactive, and prescriptive data. On top of this data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have provided organizations with real-time feedback for growth.


Innovative Shift in Subscription Management Platforms

Businesses are now going beyond simple subscriptions by developing unique and innovative subscription models that are enabled by breakthrough technologies like AI. Chargezen, SAP, Oracle, Netsuite, Computer Sciences, Avangate, and other prominent subscription solutions manage the billing cycle for subscription revenue models.


Lightweight subscription billing software, which is inexpensive and simple to build, can help organizations get started processing online payments rapidly, especially for start-ups. Fewer legal, finance and accounting resources are required to manage different subscription cycles for different customers/accounts.


Furthermore, solutions like Chargezen enable organizations to develop predictable, recurring revenue models by delivering an end-to-end subscription solution, allowing enterprises in any industry to adjust to changing customer behavior and embrace subscription business models.


The Future of Subscription

In the IT industry, the subscription business model will become the norm. More companies will continue to make long-term investments and provide subscription programs that provide the simplicity and customizability that they need to expand. Here are a few predictions to help you prepare for the future of subscription:


1st Prediction

Hybrid commerce will grow massively and merchants who offer one-time purchases of goods or services that complement their subscription products will witness an increase in subscribers' usage and delight. 


As evidence, subscription businesses are discovering that providing one-time purchases of items or services that complement their recurring component increases subscriber usage and delight.


2nd Prediction

The benefits of AI and machine learning will only increase in the future; in fact, they will soon become a must-have. When it comes to using AI and machine learning to research the audience, media streaming businesses are already ahead of the curve.


3rd Prediction

As more companies adopt the subscription business model, a new competition will rise; with more learning platforms like Udemy(paid) and Khan Academy(free) joining the scene. Subscription-based key performance indicators like frequency of interaction will become the new norm across industries and will decide who wins the competition.


As subscription businesses grow and the market becomes competitive alongside, here are three key things that can help you stay ahead of the curves:


Track and Use Data 

Information like product returns, repeat purchases, and the interval between purchases can help you improve your customer relationship. There's no reason not to use advanced data analytics tools to measure consumer behavior, especially with the birth of new tools by the day. And if you notice a customer canceling their subscription, it's time to put in place measures to entice them back.


Consider Customers in all Decision Making

Brands that adopt a customer-centric attitude are more likely to enjoy long-term success in the subscription business model. The continuity of subscription gives brands more opportunities to connect with customers on a more personal and regular basis; you should use this to your advantage if you want your subscription business to stand the test of time.


Use a Great and Flexible Subscription Management Solution

The best decision you can make for your subscription business is choosing the right subscription management solution; a flexible one that can manage to dun to reduce churn; provides deep dive analytics to save you the cost of buying multiple third-party apps, and integrates seamlessly with the apps you're using. A good subscription management platform with the correct features is crucial for any organization that relies on recurring revenue to succeed. This is why I recommend Chargezen - the most comprehensive Shopify subscription management App that is helping brands sell recurring products, build custom subscription boxes, gain insights into their data; and more to create an incredible subscription experience for their customers!


Conclusion

Subscription has a lot of potential and profit in store for forerunners and those considering subscription, and there's never been a better time to subscribe than now. The truth however is that with the low barrier to market entry, the market will equally become competitive. If you're thinking of adopting the subscription business model, using analytics, practicing a consumer-centric approach, and investing in great subscription management solutions like Chargezen will surely help your business maximize recurring revenue. If you've questions or ideas in this regard, feel free to leave me a message at success@trychargezen.com.

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