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Ecommerce glossary > Subscription fatigue

Subscription fatigue

What is subscription fatigue?

Subscription fatigue refers to a potential decrease in consumer interest around subscription services over time as the number of available subscription offerings increases. With the massive growth of the subscription economy in recent years, more and more businesses have flocked to the subscription business model. Today, many consumers hold more subscriptions than ever before, for everything from their utility bills to subscription streaming services (e.g. subscription video services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video) to curated subscription boxes, meal kits, and recurring deliveries of essential household goods. 

The idea behind subscription fatigue is that such a crowded subscription landscape could lead to greater hesitancy among consumers to sign up for yet another recurring offering. In theory,  subscription fatigue could increase the likelihood that customers cancel subscriptions outright, leading to higher churn rates and decreased customer lifetime value, average order value, and customer satisfaction.

How to mitigate potential fatigue surrounding the subscription business model 

With so many subscriptions on the market today, one customer often holds subscriptions for multiple services. It’s important for subscription businesses to remember that they aren’t just competing with other brands in their vertical—they’re competing with all recurring offerings. Therefore, to stand apart from the competition and reduce the likelihood of potential subscription fatigue, a subscription business should aim to make their subscriptions as flexible and customizable as possible.

Though it might sound counterintuitive, one of the most effective strategies for reducing churn around subscriptions is making it easy for customers to skip or reschedule an order. By providing flexible delivery options, subscription providers can empower their customers to stay with their business longer rather than canceling altogether. It can also be beneficial to offer subscribers multiple delivery frequencies—for example, choices for monthly subscriptions, weekly subscriptions, or deliveries on a custom interval. This way, customers can customize their deliveries to fit their schedule.