Subscription Economy

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Let’s face it: we all live, and participate, in a subscription economy. The pandemic restricted society from seeing films, frequenting sporting events, going out to restaurants – all leading to the inevitable rise of the subscription economy. Food delivery and online film services grew in popularity during the national quarantine.


Disney+ more than doubled in revenue from Q1 of 2020 to Q3 of 2021 and is still growing, according to Forbes stated last year that there were almost fifty streaming services in America—and that number could just continue to rise. With all of these streaming services expanding to the world wide web, one could say that the film industry is becoming a subscription industry—but it is not alone in its transition.


With retail stores realizing that it would be nearly impossible to sell in-person, they began to rely on customers joining monthly box programs. These subscriptions would deliver boxes to the customer’s door with new things to try—like makeup, food and clothing. According to, the subscription box industry revenue grew from $57.0 million in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016, and an IMARC study showed that the industry grew to $18.8 billion in 2020. This growth came during the pandemic from consumers that were stuck in their homes and wanted to try new things. Casual attire became incredibly popular, attributed to the new ability to work from home. Many customers also wanted the opportunity to receive new things rather than having to pick new products themselves. A great example of a subscription box service is HelloFresh, a company that delivers fresh meals to your doorstep.


Services like Amazon and Costco destroy the competition using the subscription model. Costco made nearly $4 billion in 2021 from its member subscription, and Amazon made $12 billion from its prime subscription. Not to mention that paying a yearly subscription typically makes people feel obligated to shop at the store because they already paid for usage and want to get the best out of their membership. That is why many successful companies have either applied this to their model or are adding it now.


The only negative part about the subscription economy is how easy it is to unsubscribe. While many companies stay faithful to their subscription plan—like Amazon when they raised their price on February 18th, 2022, up 16%—some brands have seen abrupt dips in growth and subscriptions. Disney+ saw a drop in growth in Q3 of 2021 because it is virtually impossible to constantly release content that is attractive to all of its subscribers. While the subscription economy is strong and still growing, it is volatile because most services grant customers the ability to leave the market.