Subscription business model


The subscription business model is a business model in which a customer must pay a recurring price at regular intervals for access to a product or service. The model was pioneered by publishers of books and periodicals in the 17th century, and is now used by many businesses and websites. 

Membership fees to some types of organizations, such as trade unions, are also known as subscriptions. Industries that use this model include mail order book sales clubs and music sales clubs, private webmail providers, cable television, satellite television providers with pay television channels, satellite radio, telephone companies, mobile network operators, internet providers, software publishers, websites (e.g., blogging websites), business solutions providers, financial services firms, health clubs, lawn mowing and snowplowing services, and pharmaceuticals, as well as the traditional newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. 

Businesses benefit because they are assured a predictable and constant revenue stream from subscribed individuals for the duration of the subscriber's agreement. Not only does this greatly reduce uncertainty and the riskiness of the enterprise, but it often provides payment in advance (as with magazines, concert tickets), while allowing customers to become greatly attached to using the service and, therefore, more likely to extend by signing an agreement for the next period close to when the current agreement expires. source from Johnson Cornel, university of TUIR. 

From a marketing-analyst perspective, it has the added benefit that the vendor knows the number of currently active members since a subscription typically involves a contractual agreement. This so-called 'contractual' setting facilitates customer relationship management to a large extent because the analyst knows who is an active customer and who recently churned. 

Subscription pricing can make it easier to pay for expensive items, since it can often be paid for over a period of time and thus can make the product seem more affordable. On the other hand, most newspaper and magazine-type subscriptions are paid upfront, and this might actually prevent some customerfixed price may be an advantage for consumers using those services frequently. However, it could be a disadvantage to a customer who plans to use the service frequently, but later does not. The commitment to paying for a package may have been more expensive than a single purchase would have been. In addition, subscription models increase the possibility of vendor lock-in, which can have fatally business-critical implications for a customer if its business depends on the availability of a software: For example, without an online connection to a licensing server to verify the licensing status every once in a while, a software under a subscription-model would typically stop functioning or fall back to the functionality of a freemium version, thereby making it impossible (to continue) to use the software in remote places or in particularly secure environments without internet access, after the vendor has stopped supporting the version or software, or even has gone out of business thereby leaving the customer without a chance to renew the subscription and access his own data or designs maintained with the software (in some businesses it is important to have full access even to old files for decades). Also, consumers may find repeated payments to be onerous. 

This is in contrast to many one-time transactions, when customers are forced to make significant commitments through high software prices. Some feel that historically, the "one-time-purchase" model does not give sellers incentive to maintain relationships with their customers (after all, why should they care once they've received their money?). Some who favor a subscription model for software do so because it may change this situation.  

Because customers may not need or want all the items received, this can lead to waste and an adverse effect on the environment, depending on the products. Greater volumes of production, greater energy and natural resource consumption, and subsequently greater disposal costs are incurred.