The New Subscription Economy
The general subscription business model originated in the early 17th century, where daily essentials for water and consumables were examples of items that utilized this strategy. Within the last 100 years up to the 21st century, this method has not expanded much beyond specific sectors, primarily in the field of print media. Along with that, SaaS companies were typically the ones that would require such a method of business transaction with users. However, within the last two decades, some trends began to change and ushered in this new era of subscriptions for consumers. Let’s explore further how subscription plans have become a major part of the various applications we use today.
The fall of the DVD market (due to its numerous flaws in price effectiveness, inflexibility, late fees, and more) and traditional TV consumption, ushered in online streaming thanks to a more matured internet platform. Netflix has been around since 1999, but only started to double down on subscription services to what we see today when they felt the infrastructure was ready to provide what they aimed for. Other brands such as Adobe and Microsoft Office migrated licensing methods from one-time purchases for life to a subscription model during the 2000s-and into the 2010s. Google Drive, with its OneDrive plan, provided storage space for users for a monthly fee. PlayStation has its Plus plan with different options for players to choose from, with the basics to go online, and the higher tiers with more benefits. Spotify was also ahead of the game in providing subscription-based music plans, instead of paying per song or album, and Amazon Prime with its various benefits, especially for students.
Initial years of COVID
As millions worldwide had to start working from home, or at the very least, some form of hybrid work, this exposed the need for flexible, digital solutions. With countless workers at home for the majority of the day, this meant the usage of non-work-related providers also increased. With some brands previously mentioned above being major players in entertainment and consumption, it is no shock that the trends for subscription-based services greatly skyrocketed. In a way, a subscription-based approach should be what most brands would be implemented within the next 5–10 years, but COVID most certainly accelerated this process. For the consumer side, COVID has also been a major player to propel this shift for many consumers over to this new era.
The Subscription Economy Index report of March 2021 has concluded that the subscription economy has grown by a staggering +435% in the course of nearly a decade. Furthermore, in the media sector, growth was at 188% from Q1 2017 to Q4 of 2020, with COVID being a factor for an additional boost. In leveraging the consumer and usage insights companies have gotten over the years, the adjustments and “giving users what they want” have paid off. Netflix in Q1 2022 reported approximately 221 million subscribers, a staggering increase in the course of just over a decade. However, it is not just the consumer side that has seen benefits of subscription methodology. Zuora reports an average of 23–24% user churn, versus 29% for non-usage of subscription plans. As reduction of churn is a constant goal for companies, this is a clear sign of its effectiveness. Another additional plus for subscription plans are the ability to pause or suspend a plan, then return later; Zuora has reported saving 1 out of every 6 customers for businesses.
How does Puffin 365 come into all this?
Puffin has been developing consumer apps for over a decade now. As a pioneering technology company, we analyze and experiment with ways to improve our offerings. Even in its early stages, we have found the benefits of subscription plans, which as history has shown, benefited millions of users overall for the consumer market. In the light of market changes and conditions, from late last year, we moved our products over to a subscription-based plan. Instead of complicated payments for each individual product, Puffin 365 is now an all-in-one package that provides not only an affordable and accessible entry but also helps users to easily keep track of their payments to our products through a singular access point. We appreciate the feedback that our users have provided and will continue to not only push for innovation in our products but also our way of doing these here at Puffin.