Credit crunch and subscription services

One trend that I’ve noticed, almost certainly in response to the credit crunch, is that businesses are heavily marketing subscription services, where customers pay up front for a year’s supply. It’s very visible among the UK serious newspapers. The Guardian has recently raised its cover price, but accmpanied the change with a big promotion for a subscription service where you pay in advance for vouchers, and pick up your paper from the newsagent in the normal way. The Times has a similar service, and is offering Marks and Spencer vouchers and theatre tickets as an inventive to people who join up. Clearly the fear is that these papers will lose readers as the hard financial times continue.

The same trend also affects Internet retailing. Ocado, the Internet supermarket, now charges for delivery but offers a deal where you can pay in advance, or even in 12 monthly stages, a fixed fee for ‘membership’ which covers all deliveries for a year. Again the idea is to lock in customers who might otherwise be tempted to take their business elsewhere if they find that money is tight.

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