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Subscription economy growth driven by new sectors, but prices are being cut

The next wave of growth in the subscriptions economy is set to come from non-traditional sources such as DIY, homewares, technology companies and department stores. There is also set to be a surge in existing subscription-offering businesses expanding their portfolios, data shows. 

According to data from Barclaycard Payments, growth in the subscription economy is set to come from DIY and home improvement (76%), homeware and furniture (73%), department stores (73%) and technology businesses (69%). All plan to launch new subscription offerings, all above the industry average of 61%.

Technology retailers, grocery brands and DIY and home improvement merchants plan to introduce the largest number of new sign-up products and services before the end of the year, with an average of four new offerings, compared to an average of three across all businesses.

Of businesses which do not currently offer subscriptions, many report plans to invest in new offerings, with technology companies (50%), department stores (49%) and homeware & furniture retailers (41%) all planning to launch at least one new sign-up product or service within the next 12 months.

The data also shows that more than two thirds (68%) of businesses that currently offer subscriptions will expand their portfolios before the end of 2022. 

Pricing, gifting and sustainability

As the cost-of-living continues to rise, over half (51%) of businesses which offer subscriptions are planning price cuts to attract shoppers. This could prove a valuable sales tactic, with Barclaycard Payments’ data revealing that, on average, 30% of consumers who try out a brand for the first-time by using a subscription, go on to become long-term customers.

Businesses are also diversifying into new areas to increase sales, with three fifths (61%) creating subscriptions designed to be purchased as presents in time for the festive season. This comes as 38% of Brits also said they plan to gift a subscription product or service to their loved ones. The retailers most likely to launch new offerings to appeal to Christmas shoppers include festive food and drink providers (72%), clothes & accessories retailers (70%), and DIY & home improvement stores (66%).

In addition, as sustainability becomes more important, over a third (34%) of businesses plan to introduce more environmentally friendly packaging, and 24% are planning to sell more ethical and sustainable products through a subscription model.

Younger consumers driving long-term demand

Barclaycard’s proprietary figures show that while there was a 4.2% fall in spending in June 2022 when compared to May 2022, businesses that offer subscriptions say they now account for over a third (36%) of their overall revenue.

Demand for subscriptions is strongest among younger shoppers, and those in London. Across the country, an average of 21% say they are likely to sign-up to new subscriptions before the end of the year; with those aged between 18-34 reporting the highest intention (35%), and regionally, those in London are most likely (33%). The same two demographics are also more likely to buy subscriptions as gifts for others: 55% and 56% respectively, compared to a national average of 42%.

Harshna Cayley, Head of Online Payments, Barclaycard Payments, said: “While the growth of some subscriptions has tailed off following the pandemic, demand remains strong for services which make our lives easier and provide good value of money.  

“Our data indicates higher-value products such as furniture and technology are where new growth is coming from, rather than more traditional areas like entertainment and meal kits. Although phone subscriptions have been around for many years, more recently we’ve seen packages for wearable devices, coffee machines, bicycles and even robotic vacuums all start to take off. Businesses who diversify by tapping into how consumers want to pay for, and renew, more expensive items will be best placed to thrive as the subscription economy evolves.”

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