We know that subscription-based business models are a big deal these days, especially in lockdown. Last summer, Barclaycard did some research and found that the average person spends £552 a year on them.
We’ve seen the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify reshape how people get their entertainment. Food and drink’s taken off, too: beer, gin and wine subscriptions are increasingly popular, and meal kits have been booming (especially with restaurants closed).
We’re even getting our toilet roll and dishwasher tablets on monthly subscriptions.
But, being a big bunch of insurance nerds, we were particularly interested in what the future of subscriptions looks like. What else would people pay for on a monthly basis? How much of our spending is likely to be subscription-based in the next few years? Will we see the same shifts in more traditionally inflexible industries, like banking and car insurance?
So we asked people about it.
We’re as tired of lockdown as anyone, but one of the big things that cropped up in our research was the massive impact it’s had on our buying habits.
39% of the people we surveyed have more subscriptions now than they did in lockdown. Only 3% had less.
As you’d expect, people buy lots of entertainment subscriptions - more than ever we’re wiling away the weekends with Netflix and Amazon Prime binges.
Music and food/drink subscriptions have become more popular, too, with 23% and 16% of people buying more of them respectively.
Across age groups, the convenience of having a set monthly payment was the biggest draw of buying subscription-based products and services. 45% of all our survey respondents said it was a big draw.
Similarly, about a third of people liked having the flexibility to cancel things, rather than having to commit to payments they might not want in the longer-term.
Fixed monthly payments also help people, budget, especially those in the 25-34 age bracket: more than a fifth of people in this group find it helps them manage their money to pay for more products with fixed monthly payments.
We’ve seen subscriptions having a pretty transformative effect on entertainment and food, and things are changing with how we buy our household products, too.
There are plenty of other industries where convenience and flexibility are in short supply. And those industries could do with a similar shake-up.
There aren’t many industries with a worse reputation for flexibility and convenience than car insurance.
When you get monthly cover through other insurance companies, it often comes with a loan with whopping APRs that can make your cover up to 40% more than what it would be if you paid in one go, just for the convenience of paying monthly.
We think things need to change. It’s why we launched a new monthly subscription, without the cancellation fees, APRs or impact on your credit score.
We wanted to understand people’s attitudes to these potential changes. Would they look for the same flexibility from their financial products?
Nearly two-thirds of people would, with 62% of people saying they’d feel comfortable trying out new subscription-based models for products like insurance.
Overall, younger people were more likely to be comfortable with this: 67% of 25-34-year-olds were keen on new ways of buying these traditionally inflexible products.
But the most enthusiastic for innovation were 45-54: nearly a third (31%) expressed an interest in subscription-based finance products.
But the bit we really wanted to know about was the future. What will be buying in completely different ways in 2, 5 or 10 years from now?
According to our research, it’s likely to keep growing and growing. 44% of people we asked said they were likely or “very likely” to get more subscription-based products in the near future.
Only 19% of people said it was unlikely they’d take out more subscription products in the near future.
On the whole, the subscription revolution looks to be building up a head of steam. And despite the obvious impact of the pandemic, there’s no sign of our interest in subscription models slowing down when things (finally) get a bit more normal.
And with customers valuing convenience, flexibility and the stability of fixed monthly payments, It’s also clear that there’s an appetite for change. Industries that aren’t renowned for offering flexible, convenient experiences will have to keep up.
The survey was carried out in February 2021, using a sample size of 2,000 UK adults who use subscription services
Updated on 2nd March 2021