The 10 best and worst things subscription brands can do

Want to know how to delight subscribers - or how to avoid turning them off? We have the answers!

Product subscriptions can be wonderful, delivering the best of what people love right to their doors. If you nail your value proposition, you can enjoy years of customer loyalty… but if you get it wrong, you’ll have people clamouring to cancel.

We wanted to find out US consumers’ biggest turn ons and turn offs when it comes to product subscription, so we did a quick poll of 250 people. Here’s what they said…

The 5 things subscription brands should do

1. Offer an introductory discount

We asked people what types of promotions would most persuade them to purchase a subscription and the winning answer was offering 50% off the first delivery. The second most-persuasive promotion was offering a trial month with no commitment, while third was 30% off the first month. This indicates that a cash saving is more compelling than a no-strings attached offer, but it needs to be a big saving. 

2. Provide high quality products

US consumers say the quality of a product subscription is vital, meaning that products must be reliable and of a high standard. Ease of use is also important, with customers able to order and amend their orders without fuss. The third most important factor is personalization, with people wanting products tailored to their preferences. 

3. Offer free delivery

Offering free delivery is more desirable than flexibility. It’s the most in-demand delivery option, significantly ahead of being able to choose delivery within a one hour window. This option comes in joint second place, alongside being able to receive updates from the driver about the time of the delivery.

4. Be flexible and trusted

When we asked people about the proposition attributes that are most important to them in a subscription brand, there was a tie for first place. While consumers want a subscription to be flexible (letting them pause or cancel at any time and move or skip any delivery), they also want them to be trusted. This means that great customer reviews and satisfaction guarantees form a big part of their consideration. In third place, they’re also looking at how customizable the subscription is and whether they can choose products and benefits. 

5. Offer a reward for commitment

As we saw earlier, shoppers will commit to a subscription if there’s something in it for them. We found that people are most attracted to a 12 month commitment with two months free. Only slightly less attractive is a six month commitment with a month free. In third place is a six month commitment with 10% off. Meanwhile, getting 20% off for a 12 month commitment comes in fifth place, showing it’s a balancing act between length of commitment and money off. 

5 things subscription brands should not do

1. Make it hard to cancel

According to US consumers, there’s nothing more annoying than needing to call and wait on hold, send emails or negotiate when you want to cancel a product subscription. They also find it irritating if they have to wait seven days after delivery to cancel or if cancelling means an instant end to the service.

2. Have long delivery times

In terms of service, Americans can’t stand it when product subscriptions have long delivery times – they want their packages pronto! It also bugs them when they receive products that have a short shelf life. And while it might be good for the environment, they don’t appreciate it if they get charged for failing to return packaging. 

3. Ask people to pick up their package

When we asked people about different delivery options, the least favored choice was collecting the delivery from a local store. People want their product subscriptions delivered to their home – namely, at a day and time to suit them.

4. Rely on celebrity endorsements 

In the social media age, you might think getting celebrities and influencers to promote your subscription brand is a great idea, but consumers think otherwise. They say that a paid recommendation is the type of promotion least likely to persuade them to subscribe.  

5. Worry about having exclusive products

Offering unique products that are not for sale elsewhere clearly gives people a reason to buy, but it’s not the be all and end all. We found that product exclusivity (and producing limited editions) was the least important factor for a subscription brand, with having a high variety of products deemed more desirable.

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Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.

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