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Subscription market booms as UK consumers seek mood boost during lockdown

Over 65s are helping drive ecommerce growth – so how can you tap into them?

The subscription market in the UK has received a major boost over the most recent lockdown as consumers have signed up in droves to digital and physical subscription services to lift their mood.

Research from Emarsys finds that physical subscription services — ones that deliver alcohol, food, beauty products more usually on a monthly basis — are growing, with nearly one in five (17%) consumers now saying they have signed up to a monthly subscription service for products.

Food subscription services are the most popular, accounting for nearly a third (29%) of physical subscription buyers, followed by beauty and grooming (20%), alcohol (10%) and health and fitness products (9%).

Around one in five UK consumers have also subscribed to digital services such as Netflix, Spotify and Babbel during the latest lockdown — with the 16–24 age bracket (34%) showing more interest in digital subscription apps than any other age group.

Growth is driven by a consumers looking for something to look forward to, says the study, with nearly 30% of consumers saying it feels nice to receive something every month in the post and 22% say they like the surprise of not knowing what they’ll receive each month.

As for why consumers are turning to digital subscriptions, 32% say that apps like Netflix and Spotify help them relax, while 19% say apps help them handle loneliness.

Commenting on these findings, Em Sheldon, fashion, beauty and travel blogger, says: “I’ve seen a boom myself, with my family, my friends and my followers signing up to subscriptions. Whilst it used to be your TV subscription, it’s now cocktail-making tasting subscriptions, monthly beauty boxes, pasta subscriptions and even flower subscriptions. It seems people really do love having something special to look forward to, so they can create a restaurant feel, date night at home or just feel pampered.

Sheldon adds: “I think giving a ‘gift’ to yourself or even to someone else, that keeps giving, in the form of a subscription is great for our wellbeing too. On the flip side to this, I am seeing a rise in subscriptions that make life easier, whether it’s a fitness on demand app — so we can keep fit at home or a food delivery service, with healthy yet quick meals delivered to the door.”

Chris Godderich, VP mobile, Emarsys adds: “Part of the reason both physical and digital subscriptions have done well is because most of them are delivered through a mobile app — and consumers have become even more attached to their mobile devices during lockdown.”

Godderich  concludes: “The challenge for brands that offer these services now though is to retain these new customers once lockdown restricts lift. The key to doing that is to remain relevant to those customers, which means personalisation, personalisation, personalisation. Traditionally, offering a personalised experience on mobile was challenging, but now technology exists that can help brands offer a one-to-one tailored experience for each and every customer based on their exact preferences and needs.”

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