Despite cost of living pressures, 86% of UK shoppers have increased, or at least maintained, their spending on subscriptions over the last year, while 78% intend to ringfence or increase their subscription spending in the months ahead.
Only 1% in the UK and across all markets surveyed now do not consider themselves to be subscribers in any form.
These are some of the findings of a study into subscription shopping trends to date by OnePoll and online travel firm eDreams ODIGEO.
In terms of the most popular products for subscribers, travel subscriptions emerged as the most likely to experience growth in the next year. Almost half (47%) of existing subscribers to travel products said they would increase their subscription level over the next twelve months, higher than any other product category. A combined 90% of travel subscribers said they would increase or ringfence their current travel subscription levels over coming months. Similarly, across the global dataset, travel was the most likely product to pick up new subscribers – 24% of people who currently don’t subscribe to a travel service or product, plan to start a subscription in the next 12 months, more than in any other product category.
An example of the popularity of the subscription model in the travel sector is eDreams ODIGEO’s subscription service, Prime, which was the first subscription product to be launched for travellers, and now has millions of members worldwide. Prime has now topped 4.2 million members globally, evidencing its popularity as a solution for modern travellers.
Subscription cost savings proving valuable to lower and higher earners a like
A key driver for the success of the subscription model is its ability to help customers find cost savings, evidenced by the fact that UK shoppers identified ‘cost effectiveness’ (41%) as one of the top two subscription benefits, along with ‘convenience’ (49%).
Lower earners are as likely to have a live subscription (74%) as the highest earners (76%), while there is only a marginal difference between the percentage of lower income households which have increased or maintained subscription spending over the last 12 months compared with higher income households – 89% for those on the lowest incomes and 93% of those earning over £100k.
Because of the cost saving benefits of subscriptions, respondents from the lowest income bracket (0-35k) were the most likely to actually increase subscriptions in 2023 (37%), compared with 28% of those earning £100k plus.
eDreams ODIGEO CEO, Dana Dunne, said: “In the UK, and across the world, households are facing cost of living pressures. In this context, subscriptions become a true ally to modern-day shoppers as they bring tangible benefits, whether that’s time savings for busy parents or better value for money for those with stretched budgets.
“What seems to unify everyone, though, is that subscriptions offer a way to make vital cost savings, as well as a far more convenient and personalised shopping experience. Subscriptions are allowing people to buy what they need, and enjoy the things they love, more easily, and for less. This is a huge part of why we are seeing a boom in the subscription economy globally, and it’s why we continue to shift our business model towards subscription as our main method for engaging with our customers.”
Breaking down subscription trends by demographic
Young couples are the most likely demographic to own an active subscription (91%), but families are leading society’s subscription switchover. 87% of families hold active subscriptions and fifty per cent have more than three. Families set the bar for the highest number of subscriptions for an individual household – 18.
Families are also the most likely demographic to expand their subscription spending in the next year (47% expect to increase their spending over the next 12 months), while 54% of families said they had already increased their subscription spending over the last year.
Even though young couples and families are leading the charge, 90% of retired grandparents aged over 65 say they use subscriptions at least ‘sometimes’. The majority of this group (87%) have between 1-3 active subscriptions, whilst 83% say they plan to either ringfence that spending or increase it over the next 12 months.
There were no noticeable differences in subscription habits between genders, with 89% of women and 91% of men saying the use subscription services at least sometimes, while 32% of both men and women already describe themselves as ‘avid’ subscribers.
It is also clear that subscriptions aren’t just for younger generations. The data shows that while Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are leading the way, older generations aren’t that far behind. 74% of over 65s say they subscribe sometimes or are ‘avid’ subscribers, compared to 81% of 18-24 years olds. At the same time, while 85% of 18-24 year olds and 82% of 25-34 year olds say they will increase or ringfence spending over the next year, 80% of over 65’s plan to do the same.
Right across the UK subscriptions are proving popular, with Londoners leading amongst UK regions. 84% of London shoppers have active subscriptions, while 95% have increased or maintained their levels of spending over the last 12 months. Londoners have the highest average number of individual subscriptions (5), the largest monthly subscription spend of any region (£57.50), and Londoners are the most likely to increase their subscription spending over the next year (51%). But, while London’s shoppers are leading the way, it was Welsh shoppers who were most likely to describe themselves as ‘avid’ subscribers (50%).
Why do we subscribe?
Cost effectiveness and convenience are the two main reasons for subscribing across all demographic profiles. But the study also reveals noticeable differences in why different people choose to subscribe, based on their specific circumstances, creating distinct ‘Subscribe Tribes’.
Singles seeking savings are most focused on the cost efficiencies offered by subscriptions, especially as they look to make their money go further in the current economic climate. The most popular benefit of subscription services highlighted by all demographics involving people who were not in relationships (including young singles and single parents), was cost savings – 28%.
By comparison, for time-poor parents (respondents in relationships, and who have children), convenience emerged as the most popular subscription benefit – 25%. These results suggest that subscriptions work for families because they give parents time back by understanding their personal shopping preferences and tailoring their offerings accordingly, as well as automating much of the traditional shopping experience.
For older subscribers, it was a blend of convenience (28%) and cost-effectiveness (25%), that made subscriptions so attractive, perhaps suggesting that this demographic values the ability to relax and retire in style through subscriptions, which offer both cost savings and the ability to shop in a simpler way.
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