Three Ways Subscriptions Deliver, Just in Time for Peak Holiday Gifting

Holiday online shopping theme with laptop stock photo

By Theresa McEndree, CMO, Recurly

Given that yet another holiday season is upon us, consumers are busy ticking everyone off their list before the 24th. For those “hard-to-shop-for” individuals, gift cards have long been the go-to–but survey results suggest that this season, subscriptions are just as in demand. In fact, 63% of consumers said they’re considering giving subscriptions as a gift and 70% said they’d love to receive a subscription themselves. The stats are even stronger for the GenZ and Millennial groups.

All to say that subscriptions—due in no small part to their flexibility of pricing and structure—are front and center, with utility-forward gifts (we are in a time of rising costs of living, after all) and experience-related gifts (which are as popular with younger generations as they are with the older set) leading the charts.

With that in mind, here are three points to consider when determining whether subscriptions could help your business boost sales before year’s end.

It’s never too soon (or too late) to offer a discount, because subscriptions are immediate and instant.

Nearly one-in-four (22%) consumers surveyed had already started their holiday shopping by the time Halloween had come and gone, and another 40% said they began their holiday shopping sometime in November. All to say that not everyone is as on top of their shopping list as they might like to be, and still there are plenty of others who are waiting to do their shopping for financial reasons will be shopping ‘til the clock strikes.

Ultimately, businesses that offer thoughtful, practical subscriptions that are easy to purchase and pay for will win the crucial share of wallet. Offering a variety of different pricing levels and options gives consumers even more choice and goes a long way toward building loyalty as well. Innovative brands that offer introductory pricing for subscription gifting, discounts for multiple subscription or ramp pricing to reward customer loyalty can be key levers in subscription management and retention during the holidays and well into 2023.

Bundle and grow.

Strategic pairings, such as a streaming media and popcorn-of-the-month subscription, a wine and cheese subscription, or workout membership and fitness box subscription, provide compelling reasons to spend and gift. What’s better than a single experience, for instance? An enhanced experience.


With that in mind, consider how your brand can actively partner with complimentary brands, as well as how you might be able to soft-sell bundles to create a more customized gifting experience for consumers. Additionally, brands that utilize marketing tools to reward existing users with a bonus when they buy a gift will continue to have the upper hand on growth and customer experience.

Leverage pricing and subscription lengths effectively.

When thinking about pricing and promotions, consider that the majority of consumers (72%) are looking to spend under $100 on a subscription gift. This means that retailers must consider both the short-term and long-term costs as a point of entry, along with the length of time that subscription will yield. This is largely important from an acquisition perspective, as most consumers surveyed report that if they were to receive a subscription as a gift, they would continue the subscription once the gift period expired if they found the subscription fun, useful, or helpful (52%).

The opportunity to grow a gift subscriber into a long-term customer is exactly the source of growth most retailers are seeking—the legendary conversion! Nailing the product experience and offering remains just as critical, such that you must dial into that customer and be specific with your offering. Have you tailored promotions and content to fit in alignment with their habits and preferences? Utilizing the analytics and consumer data through CRM and subscription management platforms is a critical tool which brands can use to lock in new customers after the trial period ends.