The subscription model has a long and varied history but is based on a simple concept: pay one price to gain access to a product or service on a monthly basis. While traditional subscriptions fulfill basic needs, the digital age has opened up a world of possibilities, from dog treat boxes to vehicle subscriptions. Let’s take a look at some subscriptions that make sense and some others that don’t.
Local newspaper subscriptions are an investment in your community. Without the income from monthly subscribers, there might not be anyone to cover the crucial events in your town. From town council meetings and high school sports to birth and wedding announcements and obituaries, local newspapers document the daily cycle of American life. In this day and age, it’s absolutely essential to support your favorite local news-gathering institutions.
National newspapers give considered thought to the big issues. Whether you read USA Today,The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, or the Dallas Morning News, their voice is essential. Now, in an increasingly connected world, we need to stay on top of the national news.
Satellite radio brings your music wherever you go without the need for an internet connection. While the popularity of Pandora and Spotify may make a satellite radio subscription’s monthly fee seem like a costly luxury these days, it still makes sense to many users who value the human connection and curation skills of a great disc jockey. There’s something for everyone on SiriusXM and the world is a better place with innovative stations like Little Steven’s Underground Garage keeping the rock ‘n’ roll spirit alive.
Software as a subscription gained prominence with the rise of the internet. Long gone are the days of trudging out to CompUSA to buy a physical copy of the latest version of Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop. Adobe launched Creative Cloud in 2011, providing all of their most essential software – Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut, After Effects, and InDesign – in one convenient payment. While this can be a controversial topic, software subscriptions are positive overall. Software subscriptions may seem like a “software tax” at times, but they save users trips to the store.
Think about how many times you buy everyday products like laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and toilet paper each year. Household essentials subscription services can save shoppers hours every month. Wouldn’t life be easier if you had all the household products delivered? Amazon’s Subscribe & Save is one of the most popular providers (but users are advised to keep an eye on price increases).
The “razor for the blades” business model is a classic marketing technique. Sell one product (the razor) at a ridiculously low price to gain repeated sales of a more expensive product (the blades). Founded in 2011, Dollar Shave Club implemented an innovative subscription model that quickly turned the industry on its ear by offering users low prices for a quality product–no bait and switch involved. Consumer product giant Unilever bought the company for a colossal sum in 2016. It’s clear, razor subscriptions don’t just make sense, they make (and save) plenty of dollars.
Boutique subscription boxes are usually a hit or miss. It seems like there’s no end to the different products they offer. Some of these might make sense, but others don’t. How important is it to get a random sampling of bacon, steak, or cheese delivered every month? Do you want someone else to choose your new t-shirt or socks? New pet toys and treats, on the other hand, are always welcome, which explains the popularity of Bark Box. The company was founded in 2012 and boasts over 600,000 monthly subscribers.
While most people have a favorite magazine, only a fraction decide to subscribe to a publication without some enticement. These solicitations often turn into paid subscriptions that you don’t want when they come up for renewal. There’s a host of schemes out there, Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH) being the most famous of all. The lure of the PCH sweepstakes, tempting consumers with thousands upon thousands of dollars every month for the rest of their lives, has elicited subscriptions from people who would not have subscribed otherwise. This marketing tactic has worked like a charm since 1953.
Airline frequent flyer programs also encourage magazine subscriptions. Dormant frequent flyer account holders are pummeled with direct mailings urging flyers to “use your miles or we’ll take them away!” If the user spends a few frequent flyer miles on a magazine subscription; the airline will forgo any penalization and the account will remain active. In less than 12 months you’ll get a bill for renewal and need to decide whether or not you want to spend the money to maintain the subscription for the next year. That’s when one needs to take stock and determine whether it’s worth it or not.
A long-term pet food subscription seems like a good idea at first glance, but it can quickly turn bad if your furry pal is a finicky eater. A dog or cat can have a favorite brand of food for some time… until the day they turn their nose up at it. That creates stress at mealtime. Your pet pesters you to be fed, then gives you a dissatisfied look after you fill their bowl. They’re not happy with the same old food. You’ve bought in bulk and opted for the enormous bag of dry kibble, and now you have 50 pounds of unwanted food. If you’re considering a pet food subscription service, start with smaller quantities to play it safe.
Vehicle subscriptions like Canvas fill the space between short-term rentals and long-term leasing. They deliver the trifecta of flexibility, convenience, and affordability. With a car subscription service, you choose a specific vehicle to meet your needs each month. You might choose a thrifty Ford Fusion hybrid for everyday commuting or an all-wheel-drive, three-row Ford Explorer SUV to tackle the family’s winter snowboarding trips. When the weather warms up, you can hop into a convertible Ford Mustang to enjoy open-air motoring in the spring or choose a mighty Ford F-150 for those summertime home construction projects.
Deciding which subscriptions work for you and which don’t is a process. Once you make the decision to move forward, your best bet is to start with a trial short-term subscription.