The Psychology Behind Why We Love Physical Subscriptions

There’s something exciting about getting a subscription product (Dollar Shave Club, Stitch Fix, Milk). Yeah, it might just be your vitamins or protein shake mix, your monthly coffee selection or the vegetables you signed up to get. But it’s still exciting. It’s like getting a present, even though it’s not a present. We humans respond to subscriptions with the same psychological thrill that accompanies a surprise gift. That’s why retailers and CPG companies should think about making subscriptions part of their marketing mix if they have not yet done so.

In a white paper entitled The Psychology of Physical Subscriptions, the writers point out some of the attributes of subscriptions that make them so successful with customers. Including:

A Sense Of Belonging

Having a subscription makes you feel special to the retailer or manufacturer. As a subscriber, you’re linked. You’re no longer an anonymous shopper, pulling something off the shelf and going about your business unrecognized, unacknowledged. You’re known. You’re a regular. You’re part of a club of people who have created an allegiance with this brand, and this product which more deeply connects you with others who have similar goals, values, tastes. Getting your protein powder delivered identifies you as one of the athletes trying to change their bodies and build muscle. Without leaving your home, you’ve expanded your connections.

Another perk of belonging includes having other product suggestions curated for you because, as one of their regulars, they know the kinds of things you like that would make you happy or help you achieve your goals. Maybe your co-subscribers are using some of these products and you can see which ones are the most popular. (This creates a great cross-selling opportunity for retailers and manufacturers.)

Plus, you probably get a discount as a reward for your loyalty which makes subscribing to this product a better value and an all-around better experience. That’s a powerful piece of relationship marketing right there.

The Excitement of Anticipation

As a customer, you look at your dwindling supply of whatever it is and say, “But my shipment is coming tomorrow!” That’s a completely different experience than stopping whatever you’re doing to go to a store and buy a refill—hoping that it’s in stock. It will come to your mailbox or door, you can count on having that nice, full, container again and you can rest easy. Plus getting packages is just fun. There’s an element of surprise, even if you know it’s coming. And savvy retailers and manufacturers can include coupons or other added bonuses that increase the sense of reward and surprise.

As the whitepaper pointed out, we’re living in a society that feels increasingly disconnected, where everything is digital and anonymous and all we are is data. In the midst of this alienating culture, any sense of connection is valuable. That’s especially true if retailers and manufacturers can connect their products to consumers’ values and personal goals.

Most of us do buy certain things over and over and it’s that kind of customer loyalty retailers and manufacturers seek and seems like a great opportunity for them to seize in 2018.

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies understands the power of innovation but also its limitations. Attending Salve Regina in New England, starting his career in Silicon Valley, and now living in Austin, Texas; Seth provides a unique tech perspective to a complex CPG and Retail Grocery Industry that is in constant disruption.