Subscription Models for Online CPG Brands


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Discussing the benefits and implementation of subscription models for consumer goods eCommerce.


In the rapidly evolving landscape of eCommerce, consumer goods brands are increasingly turning to subscription models to enhance customer engagement and drive revenue. Among these models, Amazon‘s “Subscribe and Save” programs stand out for their ability to offer convenience, cost savings, and long-term value to both consumers and businesses. In this article, we will delve into the benefits, implementation strategies, and success stories of Subscribe and Save programs in consumer goods eCommerce, supported by relevant facts and figures.

Understanding Subscription Programs

Subscribe and Save programs allow customers to subscribe to receive products on a recurring basis, typically at a discounted price. These programs cater to consumers’ need for convenience and predictability by automating the replenishment of essential items such as groceries, household goods, personal care products, and more. By offering discounts or exclusive offers for subscribers, brands incentivize long-term commitments and foster loyalty among their customer base.

Benefits of Subscription Programs

  • Cost Savings: According to a study by McKinsey, consumers participating in Subscribe and Save programs can save up to 15% on average compared to one-time purchases. This significant cost-saving opportunity encourages repeat purchases and strengthens brand loyalty.
  • Convenience: The convenience offered by Subscribe and Save programs is a major draw for consumers. Research by Statista reveals that 51% of subscription box subscribers cite convenience as a primary reason for their participation. Automated deliveries ensure that essential products are consistently available without the need for manual reorderings.
  • Predictable Budgeting: With Subscribe and Save programs, customers can budget more effectively due to the predictable nature of recurring deliveries and fixed pricing. A survey by eMarketer found that 65% of consumers appreciate the predictability of subscription services, enabling them to manage their finances more efficiently.
  • Flexibility: Subscribe and Save programs often offer flexibility in terms of delivery frequency, product selection, and customization options. This flexibility allows customers to tailor their subscriptions to their specific needs and preferences, enhancing satisfaction and engagement.
  • Continuous Supply: The assurance of a continuous supply of essential products is a significant benefit of Subscribe and Save programs. Research by Deloitte indicates that 55% of consumers subscribe to replenishment services to ensure they never run out of everyday items, highlighting the importance of reliability in driving subscription uptake.

Implementation Strategies for Subscription Programs

Implementing Subscribe and Save programs effectively requires a strategic approach that considers customer preferences, pricing strategies, and promotional tactics. Here are key strategies supported by industry insights:

  • Identify Suitable Products: Analyze sales data and customer feedback to identify products that are suitable for subscription offerings. According to a study by Nielsen, consumable goods with high replenishment rates, such as coffee, snacks, and personal care items, are particularly well-suited for subscription models.
  • Set Competitive Pricing: Conduct pricing analysis to determine competitive yet profitable pricing for subscription offerings. Research by Accenture shows that 60% of consumers are motivated to subscribe by discounts or special offers, underscoring the importance of pricing incentives in driving subscription adoption.
  • Communicate Value Proposition: Clearly communicate the value proposition of Subscribe and Save programs to customers through targeted messaging and promotional campaigns. Data from HubSpot reveals that personalized promotional emails have a 29% higher open rate and a 41% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails, emphasizing the effectiveness of personalized communication in driving engagement.
  • Offer Customization Options: Provide customers with options to customize their subscriptions based on delivery frequency, product selection, and quantity. According to research by Salesforce, 52% of consumers are more likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications to them, highlighting the importance of customization in driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Simplify Subscription Management: Streamline the subscription management process to make it easy for customers to sign up, modify, or cancel their subscriptions. A study by Digital Commerce 360 found that 39% of consumers abandon their carts due to complicated checkout processes, underscoring the importance of frictionless user experiences in driving conversion and retention.
  • Promote Cross-Selling and Upselling: Leverage Subscribe and Save programs as
    opportunities to promote complementary products or upsell higher-value items. According to research by McKinsey, cross-selling and upselling strategies can increase customer lifetime value by up to 30%, highlighting the significant revenue potential of these tactics within subscription models.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Several consumer goods brands have achieved notable success with Subscribe and Save programs, demonstrating their effectiveness in driving customer loyalty and revenue growth:

Amazon Subscribe & Save

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program has continued to be a significant avenue for saving on recurring deliveries of everyday essentials for its subscribers. Over the last 12 months leading up to 2023, Amazon passed more than $1 billion in savings to its customers globally through this program. This substantial figure underscores the program’s vast scale and impact, with tens of millions of subscribers worldwide benefiting from hundreds of millions of subscriptions. Such savings reflect the program’s effectiveness in delivering value to its customer base, ensuring they never run out of their frequently needed items like coffee, diapers, dog food, and toilet paper, among other essentials.

The program is designed to provide convenience and savings, allowing customers to save up to 15% off on eligible subscriptions when they receive five or more subscriptions in one auto-delivery. This tiered discount system, along with the option to select delivery frequencies ranging from weekly to every six months, offers flexibility to meet the varying needs of Amazon’s customer base. Popular items among U.S. subscribers include laundry detergent, vitamins and supplements, and cat litter, highlighting the program’s wide-ranging appeal across different product categories.

Moreover, Amazon has established specific criteria for sellers who wish to participate in the Subscribe & Save program. These include requirements such as having a professional seller account in good standing, enrollment in the Amazon Brand Registry, and utilizing Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) with a seller rating of 4.7 or higher. These criteria are aimed at ensuring a high level of customer service and satisfaction by featuring offers from reliable and trusted sellers.

The continued evolution and success of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program illustrate its role in simplifying the shopping process while providing significant cost savings to its global subscriber base.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club disrupted the men’s grooming industry by offering subscription-based razor and grooming product deliveries at affordable prices. Since its launch in 2011, the company has amassed millions of subscribers and was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion in 2016, highlighting the substantial value generated by its subscription model. In October 2023, Unilever announced the sale of Dollar Shave Club to Nexus Capital Management LP, a U.S.-based private equity firm. Despite this sale, Unilever retained a 35% minority stake in the company, indicating a continued interest in its success and an ongoing partnership between the two entities. Dollar Shave Club boasts over 3 million active subscribers and has seen a year-over-year revenue growth of 25%, showcasing its sustained popularity and relevance in the market.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron revolutionized the meal kit industry by offering subscription-based meal deliveries with pre-portioned ingredients and chef-designed recipes. Despite facing increased competition in recent years, the company continues to attract and retain subscribers by emphasizing convenience, quality, and culinary innovation. Blue Apron has undergone significant changes recently, reflecting its continuous adaptation in the competitive meal kit industry. In a strategic move to enhance its offerings and convenience for customers, Blue Apron expanded its product line by launching “Prepared & Ready” meals in January 2024. This new category offers single-serve, non-frozen meals, providing an even more convenient option for consumers looking for quality meals without the need for preparation.

Moreover, Blue Apron announced a pivotal development in its corporate journey; it was acquired by Wonder Group for $103 million, or $13 a share. This acquisition, completed by the food tech company founded by former Walmart e-commerce executive Marc Lore, marks Blue Apron’s transition into a private company. The deal is expected to provide Blue Apron with a new revenue channel and integrate it into Wonder’s vision of becoming a “super app for mealtime”.

These developments underscore Blue Apron’s commitment to culinary innovation and quality, as well as its adaptability in the evolving meal kit market. By expanding its meal options and entering into a new phase under Wonder Group’s ownership, Blue Apron aims to continue meeting the needs of its customers and possibly attract new ones with its enhanced offerings and convenience.


Subscription programs represent a powerful strategy for consumer goods brands to drive customer engagement, loyalty, and revenue in the competitive landscape of eCommerce. By leveraging the benefits of cost savings, convenience, and flexibility, brands can attract and retain subscribers while delivering ongoing value and convenience to their customers. With effective implementation strategies informed by industry insights and best practices, Subscribe and Save programs have the potential to transform the way consumer goods are sold and consumed online, creating mutually beneficial relationships between brands and customers.

author avatar
Alan Yong CEO / Founder
Alan Yong is a distinguished eCommerce expert with an impressive career spanning over 30 years, primarily focusing on the consumer goods sector across multiple global markets, including the two largest consumer markets, China and the United States. With a deep expertise in multi-channel eCommerce, big data & analytics, performance marketing, and consumer-based supply chain and logistics, Alan has held pivotal roles as CEO and Global General Manager for multinational consumer packaged goods companies, driving significant digital transformations and eCommerce success.