Which Subscription Services Will US Consumers Sign Up for Next?

Subscription fatigue be damned. More than a third of Americans believe they will increase the number of subscription services they use in the next two years, but interest isn’t the same across all categories.

On average, US consumers subscribe to three subscription services, up from 2.4 services five years prior, according to a November 2018 survey from The Harris Poll and subscription-based services platform Zuora. When asked about the number of subscription services they will use in the future, 34% of US respondents said they would use more subscription services within two years, on par with the worldwide total.

Comparatively, 60% of US internet users said they planned to use the same number of subscription services in two years, and just 7% said they would subscribe to fewer services.

While the survey did not define subscription services—which could include print newspaper and magazine subscriptions, digital streaming services and subscription box services (e.g.,Trunk Club and Dollar Shave Club)—it did gauge interest in various subscription categories, indicating which industries might be disrupted by the subscription economy and which are likely to remain intact.

Predictably, over half (57%) of US respondents said they were interested in using TV and video-on-demand (VOD) services, and 38% were interested in music services. (The survey did not indicate whether the figures included those who were already subscribed to these services.)

We forecast that US subscription over-the-top (OTT) video viewers will exceed 193 million by 2021, or 57.3% of the population. US digital audio listeners—including paid subscribers and those who use free services—will exceed 211 million by 2021, or 63.1% of the population.

Following interest in video and audio subscriptions, The Harris Poll/Zuoro survey cited substantial interest in grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh (32%) and meal delivery services like Blue Apron (21%).

Categories like software and storage services (think Apple’s iCloud) and subscription beauty services like Ipsy received some interest, at 17% each. And then there were those that received little interest: Just 12% of US respondents were keen on using news and information services, though The New York Times recently made waves by reporting an uptick in digital subscriptions. Additionally, in the saturated category of fashion subscription boxes, only 10% of respondents reported any interest.

Consumers will eventually reach a limit on the number of services to which they are willing to subscribe. Based on consumer sentiment, however, it seems like the subscription economy still has room to grow. But some categories, like video and audio subscription services, show more promise than others.