April 23, 2024

Membership and subscription models are not new. Memberships and subscriptions are not new. The newspaper industry has been built on them for many years. Subscriptions have boomed for software, streaming platforms, clothing rentals, and many other things in recent years. Memberships are a proven way to increase revenue for fitness businesses and bulk grocery retailers.

What is the difference between membership and subscription?

Membership and subscription models have proven useful in specific industries, especially with the current pandemic. These models are being used by food and beverage companies, retailers, and other service sectors to increase loyalty and generate revenue during uncertain economic times.

Both memberships and subscriptions provide businesses with a steady stream of revenue. The customer is given different options. A subscription gives customers access to products or resources for a fixed period.

Subscribers and members can benefit small businesses.

You can use memberships and subscriptions independently or in conjunction. Your industry and how you plan to use subscriptions and memberships to increase revenue will determine how your business benefits from them. We’ll look at some sectors.

Food and beverages

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) have relied on subscription-based models for many years to deliver meat, poultry, and produce directly to consumers from the farm. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2009, CSAs have seen a surge in demand. As consumers worry about the safety of grocery stores and working conditions at meat-processing plants, CSAs offer an alternative for consumers who want their food.

The “pay a single fee for access” model has been used for table service dining for some time. Imagine an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can eat as much as you want from the wide variety of options for a one-time fee. As the pandemic spreads, we’re seeing more retailers offering subscriptions to attract customers.

A major fast-food chain has launched a subscription coffee service. This subscription service, which was in place before the pandemic hit, is now a popular way to get customers back into restaurants.

Some restaurants have changed their menus to accommodate customers stuck at home. Local restaurants offer kits to make their signature dishes at home. Make-your-own-pizza kits, for instance, are a great way to have fun at home and give customers greater control over food preparation and safety. You can easily switch to a subscription model if your business offers something similar. The “Friday Night Pizza Club,” a weekly subscription, gives customers something special to look forward to and lets them know they can still support your business even if they are uncomfortable coming in person.

A “Saturday Afternoon Ice Cream Club” is another option. Customers could sign up for regular deliveries (or pickups) of an ice cream container. These sweet treats are a great way to keep customers interested and help people establish new routines after their lives are turned upside down. Ice cream as public service? Yes, please!

Buy it Now

Retail is the industry that has seen the most boom in subscriptions in light of this pandemic. Recurly manages subscriptions and says that subscriptions for “Consumer Goods,” a sector, have increased by up to 145%. This is a massive increase for an industry that has seen its brick-and-mortar business stifled.

Subscriptions to products such as coffee beans or clothing retailers are more well-established. In the past, these niches were occupied only by subscription-only businesses. Now, boutiques, and smaller companies, can offer their spin on the subscription model.

You can switch to a subscription-based model if you sell anything from board games, puzzles, clothes, and even stationery. Home goods stores could offer a monthly subscription filled with goodies like candles that make the home feel more cozy. A game shop might offer a subscription service for puzzles. A bookshop could create a monthly club with a video book discussion using a subscription. There are many ways to develop retail subscriptions to boost business and foster community, no matter your industry.


The service industries rely heavily on face-to-face business. Consider a membership-based model if people are hesitant to return in person. How would it work? Take a look. Say you run a salon. You could offer your customers a membership program that gives them discounted prices on services and products. Customers may be enticed to schedule a haircut or signal their intention to return when they are comfortable.

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