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May 10, 2021 | Authored by: Rubi Cohen

Subscription wars: the next brand battleground

Brands at war. This is not a new concept.

Apple vs IBM. Who can forget the famous 1984-inspired Apple ad? Control and subversion, Big Brother, dystopia. That’s how high the stakes were in the Computer War.

And what about the Cola War that has kept generations of consumers debating the tiniest taste differences between Coke and Pepsi?

These wars have been raging hot for decades, and here’s why: Brands are not fighting for revenue alone. They are fighting for something far more important: customer sentiment.

(Need proof? Ask a friend who is a die-hard iPhone fan to switch to Samsung. Or vice versa. Good luck with that!)

It’s not just the taste of the cola, or the battery life of a mobile device. It’s the brand experience that conquered the customer’s heart. If a brand can do that, there is a good chance they have won the customer over for life. And that means the ultimate prize: recurring revenue.

A new war is brewing...subscriptions

Any company worth its salt can do acquisition, or one-off sales. Now brands need to move to the next step, retention, which is where the real battle is fought.

In the quest for retention, brands are competing for the opportunity to turn transactions into deep, long-term customer connections – and that means subscriptions are the key to your next competitive edge.

Like any lucrative marketplace, it hasn’t taken long for the subscription space to get awfully crowded with a lot of competitors. Never mind the big brands, like Netflix and Spotify. Even smaller brands competing for just thousands of subscribers can enjoy a slice of a very big pie.

How to win the subscription war

Because subscriptions are really about connections (not just transactions), brands need to understand the ways that consumers today behave and interact with products and services that they love.

Brands need to offer much more today than just products. They must offer a relationship that provides what the individual customer wants and needs, and anticipates those desires in advance, even before the customers themselves are aware of them.

E-commerce subscriptions can and do provide this. Let’s take a look at how.

Turn a transaction into a connection

There are several ways that subscriptions are a perfect fit for the new consumer:

  • Frictionless: People today are accustomed to ease and convenience. When the milk runs out, they don’t have to go to the store. They can use their Amazon Prime subscription to get the groceries they need in a few hours. Payments occur automatically, without needing to take any action. There are no touchpoints that feel annoying or disruptive. Just a smooth, seamless experience that fits into the customer’s daily life and makes moments easy, enjoyable and memorable.
  • Data-driven offers: With the help of subbscription intelligence, brands can create offers and bundles for products and services driven by actual data and insights about the customer’s behavior and activity. This provides extra value for customers and makes a transaction feel good and right – more like a relationship than a monetary trade. 
  • Personalized: One size never fits all. Subscriptions connect the customer to the brand over the long term, and provide brands with the ability to know the identity of the user. In this way, brands can work to personalize the relationship over time, tailoring bundles and offers to individual customers in the right way at the right time. This is a very powerful way to build lifetime loyalty.

Old doors won't open new ways

Constant customer connection is the future of e-commerce, and no brand can win a war without creating the right conditions for battle.

Even products traditionally thought of as one-time purchases should no longer be looked at as such. After all, during the Cola War, Coke never intended for customers to drink just one can. They wanted customers to buy Coke over and over again.

Casetify is a good example of this in action. The company sells smartphone covers, but in a new way. Once, people would buy a phone cover, and that was it. Casetify offers product personalization, turning a traditionally one-off purchase into a customized, constantly changing fashion experience. Why stop at one? That’s the way to turn transactions into connections.

In the e-commerce economy, all brands need to adopt a subscription-first mindset. figure out your market, figure out your competitive value, and turn it into a recurring offer that becomes a part of the consumer’s unique identity.

It's a win-win :)

We’ve gone beyond the Cola Wars to the Subscription Wars, where brands compete for space in consumer sentiment. Deliver amazing experiences, over and over again, and customers will remember you and identify with everything your brand represents.

About Author

Rubi Cohen

Rubi Cohen

Rubi Cohen leads marketing for Vindicia. Previously, Rubi worked at Amdocs, Vindicia’s parent company. Here he held key marketing responsibilities heading the global digital marketing domain, which introduced a successful online footprint and impacted the global brand reach. With over a decade of experience in building and activating data-driven marketing ecosystems, Rubi brings extensive expertise in marketing strategy, creative brand building, communications, SEO, social media, marketing automation, paid campaigns, lead generation, and working with senior management to impact sales pipeline and brand positioning for tech and SaaS companies.