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  • Shift to subscriptions increases brand connections

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    Subscription businesses have grown nearly six times faster than the S&P 500 over the last nine years, driven by an increase in consumer demand for the use of such services.

    That’s according to  Zuora’s bi-annual Subscription Economy Index (SEI), which was conducted online by The Harris Poll among 13,626 adults across 12 countries.

    It reveals the growing consumer preferences for use of subscription services over the ownership of physical products. Results found within the End of Ownership report include: 

    • Use of subscription services is growing. 78% of international adults currently have subscription services (significantly higher than 71% in 2018), and 75% believe that in the future, people will subscribe to more services and own less physical ‘stuff’. 
    • Subscriptions increase brand connection. Nearly two-thirds of subscribers (64%) feel more connected to companies with whom they have a direct subscription experience versus companies whose products they simply purchase as one-off transactions. 
    • Consumers want to pay for what they use. Nearly three-quarters of international adults (72%) would prefer the ability to pay for what they use, rather than just a flat fee. 
    • Convenience, cost savings, and variety are top subscription benefits. Convenience (42%) tops the list of benefits for subscribing to a product or service instead of owning it, followed by cost savings (35%) and variety (35%, up from 32% in 2018). 

    As a result of this burgeoning consumer lifestyle trend, subscription businesses have grown. For the first time since its inception in January 2012, the SEI growth rate reached 437% growth as it analyzed the impact of subscription businesses by sector, comparing subscription businesses in Software as a Service (SaaS), Internet of Things (IoT), Manufacturing, Publishing, Media, Telecommunications, Education, Healthcare and Business Services to their respective S&P 500 Industry benchmarks. 

    When looking only at the year 2020 the Subscribed Institute found that:

    • Subscription business revenue outpaced that of their product-based peers. Last year, revenues of subscription companies in the SEI grew 11.6%, while the S&P 500 sales declined -1.6%. In Q4 alone, subscription businesses experienced revenue growth at a rate of 21%, seven times faster than S&P 500 companies’ growth rate of 3%.
    • Revenue per subscriber surpassed the 2019 rate. Subscription businesses in Q4 2020 had an 18% average revenue per user rate, compared to 14% in Q4 2019. The increase indicates that subscription businesses in the SEI are deepening relationships with customers and delivering services that increase in value over time. 
    • Subscription companies in the SEI performed better compared to regional stock markets. In Q1 2020, lockdowns and other safety measures seemed to slow subscription revenue growth (in APAC, revenue even contracted), but when lockdowns returned in Q4, subscription revenue growth accelerated, indicating that subscription companies were effective in adapting their offerings quickly. 

    “The time is now for companies to embrace the subscription business model,” said Amy Konary, Founder and Chair of The Subscribed Institute at Zuora. “Our bi-annual Subscription Economy Index suggests that brands can increase value to their customers through the on-going delivery of services when and where they’re needed.” 

    Download the Subscription Economy Index and the End of Ownership reports.

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    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien