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What Is It About Subscriptions?
August 30, 2021
What Is It About Subscriptions?
August 30, 2021

There’s no denying it – we’re living in a subscription universe. 

A study by McKinsey shows that 15% of online shoppers are subscribed to one or more subscription services. This, in part, explains the meteoric rise in the value of subscription e-market revenue. In 2016, the largest retailers generated more than $2.6 billion in sales compared to $57 million five years earlier.

Eager to cash in on this trend, companies have jumped the subscription bandwagon. By 2017, more than 11 million Americans had signed to business-to-consumer subscription services. That represents a 200% year-on-year growth since 2011. 

Currently, there are more than 2,000 businesses in the US using the subscription model. The astronomical jump in revenue lends credibility to the finding that subscriptions are addictive. 


Why are subscriptions addictive?

Subscriptions are addictive because they are highly targeted marketing strategies crafted by skilled marketers:

  • They are specially formulated to pander to the human psyche while numbing the pain of spending money.
  • They’re crafted to get you to view the cost of an item in installments instead of the total, scary lumpsum amount.
  • These services are also marketed using a time vs. money effect. They get you to focus on time and money saved and convenience instead of the financial transaction and implications.

Subscription services are addictive because they’re built around four critical factors that provide value while appealing to your vanity:

  • Low prices: Most services promise access to unique products at a lower cost to help you save money.
  • Convenience: Retailers deliver to your doorstep, saving you the hassle of going to the store.
  • Personalization: Having all the cool stuff that caters to your refined taste show up at your doorstep makes you feel special and appreciated.
  • Curation: It’s the magical feeling that an expert went to great lengths to create a unique product just for you.


What’s so attractive about subscription services?

Subscription models pit two sides of your brain against each other – the rational and methodical thinking side and the emotional and irrational side. Studies show that your insular cortex, the part of the brain that perceives pain and processes emotions, flairs up when you think an item is expensive.

Paying for an expensive item becomes an ordeal, especially if on a postpaid arrangement. However, by getting you to pay upfront for the item, subscription services get you to focus on the benefits, which numbs the pain.


Why is subscription addiction a problem?

  • It has psychological underpinnings: Subscriptions services such as Amazon Prime often become a status symbol. Or the convenience of a fast delivery becomes a habit. It becomes a way of life, and you’ll have a hard time giving it up even when it’s ruining your finances.
  • Buyer lock-in: Subscribers are unlikely to shop elsewhere despite the company charging higher or exorbitant prices. Loyalty programs also turn such services into gilded prisons.
  • Increased spending: Research shows Amazon shoppers tend to spend more when they upgrade to Amazon Prime. On average, non-members spend $700, while prime members spend $1,300 a year.
  • Impulse shopping: Subscribers a prime target for upsells and upgrades. The service provider will bombard you with enticing offers, promotions, and discounted upsells to get you to increase your spending.
  • Sunken cost fallacy: Parting with upfront subscription fees creates a sunken cost fallacy. Subscribers are guilted into increasing their purchases to justify their decision to pay the monthly fees.


What’s the effect of subscription addiction?

Subscription services capitalize on the cashless effect, causing people to spend more hard-earned money without feeling the pinch. Once you’ve subscribed to a product or service, automated billing kicks in. The monthly charges fade into the background. The company keeps billing you until you opt-out of the service, which is highly unlikely unless you study your banking statement.

Companies use subscriptions to influence your buying decisions and dictate your options. They employ high-level consumer psychology tactics to get you addicted to their products and services. At this point, you’re not in total control of your life as you’re addicted to perceived benefits from your subscriptions.



There’s no denying that subscription services can be convenient. But they can also be addictive and force you down a destructive path to financial ruin. Failure to unsubscribe from services you no longer use amounts to flushing your hard-earned dollars down the drain. Left unchecked subscription services can leave a gigantic hole in your wallet and drain your finances.

Having the subscription management solution lets you drill down to and keep only the beneficial subscriptions. Ok Subscribe enables you to take complete control of your purchases and avoid flushing your hard-earned dollars down the drain.


    Take back control.

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