Survey: UK favours entertainment over grocery subscriptions

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Findings from consumer insights firm GlobalWebIndex’s latest commerce report reveal that UK consumers are more interested in subscribing to TV streaming services such as Disney+ and Netflix (46 per cent) and music such as Spotify (30 per cent) than they are for food services (29 per cent).

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that UK Internet users are more interested in subscribing to entertainment than food and beverages,” suggests Chase Buckle, Trends Manager at GlobalWebIndex. “High-frequency categories like groceries are well-suited to subscription models, especially as online grocery has taken off during the pandemic. Many are interested in meal subscriptions too, where the wide choice of recipes and ingredients on offer have proved popular as cooking has received a new lease of life in many households during lockdown. But these are still nice-to-have services rather than must-have. The likes of Netflix and Spotify have taken an indispensable role in modern entertainment preferences for some time. Their enormous libraries and buzzworthy content are a part of how we consume entertainment.”

Almost a third (31 per cent) of US/UK consumers say that the main reason for purchasing a subscription is because it’s cheaper/better value for money.

Close to half of consumers in the US/UK (47 per cent) say they’d be interested in buying a subscription to an online TV streaming service and 31 per cent would be interested in buying a food/grocery subscription in the next three to six months.

However, that’s not to say that other subscription categories don’t have appeal. For example, 31 per cent of millennials say they’re interested in subscribing to a coffee subscription and 22 per cent of Gen Z have their eyes on a beauty/cosmetics subscription in the near future. There’s still potential for other categories, they’re just a much lower priority on consumers’ subscription lists.


“To get consumers on board, they really need to be convinced about the continuous value they’re getting – especially as having different subscriptions takes a toll on consumers’ purse strings,” advises Buckle.

“There’s a reason why interest in subscription services is clustered around a few specific categories: the subscription model isn’t suitable for every product. Subscription either allows people to receive high-frequency products with high quality and reasonable price points (e.g. personal grooming), or it allows them to access a wider variety of diverse products or services (e.g. entertainment).”

“Our latest global data shows two-thirds of consumers would rather own a product/service than to have to pay to access it. This tells us people don’t want a subscription for absolutely everything, and as the economic toll of Covid-19 continues, consumers will certainly be more selective about what they sign up for.”

Almost half (47 per cent) of global Internet users have used either voice or image search in the last month on mobile. As we’ve seen, mobile is fast emerging as the preferred purchase method for consumers when shopping online. However, the way consumers search for products and services is changing.

Gen Z’s preferred methods of brand discovery lean more heavily on social media. Nearly a third of Gen Z discover brands via ads on this medium, compared to the average of just 27 per cent. That said, social media is not just a Gen Z obsession; ads seen via this platform feature in the top 7 ways in which both millennials and Gen X also typically discover new brands and products.

The most important developments are voice search (such as Siri) and image search (such as Google Lens). Globally, they’re essentially as popular as one another. In the last month, 34 per cent of Internet users have used voice search (increasing from 25 per cent in 2017) and 33 per cent have used an image recognition tool on their mobiles.

“Unlike traditional search engines, or the more contemporary social network search, these new techniques yield much narrower (sometimes even singular) sets of results,” notes Buckle. “What this ultimately means is that the stakes have gotten so much higher. If businesses are not optimised for these new formats, they won’t show up, and stand to lose out.”

GWI also notes that lockdown has changed how consumers absorb media. Older generations specifically are consuming a greater variety of media. This is great news for brands and they should be optimising their advertising to reach these consumers on platforms that would have previously been overlooked,” it concludes .


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