Rising Demand for Subscription amidst Pandemic

May 11, 2021
Emmanuel Cohen

As the pandemic disturbs conventional daily life, more consumers rely on e-commerce for shopping. Chargezen's latest 2020 research reveals that demand for subscriptions is up in all verticals and that consumer purchasing behavior might have changed permanently.

Throughout the pandemic, our research shows that subscription participation rose, while subscription retention rates were constant. This means that customers have shifted away from one-time purchases to subscriptions.

Compared to the pre-COVID-19, January baseline, subscription enrollment is up 41% across all verticals. We experienced a steady rise in subscription enrollment from March to May, which matches the initial wave of the outbreak. Enrollment declined in the summer months, but not to its initial baseline. In subsequent months, numbers start to grow again, which approximately tracks a second major increase in cases of viruses.

The rise in subscription enrollment in subsequent months is also thought to be due to the holiday season. As early as October, unlike in previous years, companies announced their promotions, so that customers can have more time to enjoy the benefits of their holiday sales.

Analytics further reveals that since the start of the pandemic, customer behavior has changed. For a better and more convenient experience, those who were initially hesitant or unwilling to visit brick-and-mortar stores turned to subscriptions. After the pandemic ends, the chances of consumers ending their renewed desire for subscriptions, which deliver convenience and time savings, is very slim.

Industries with Lead Performance in Subscription

Although subscription enrollment grew across all verticals, there were tremendous gains in some industries.

Compared to the average, pet supplies subscription enrollment rose by 352%. This is because, since the beginning of the health crisis, pet adoptions have increased. It makes sense that to keep their dogs and cats happy and safe; hence new pet owners turn to subscriptions.

The food and retail market has also seen an increase in subscription. In contrast with the average, it is up by 114%. This is because, throughout the pandemic, shopping in brick and mortar stores felt unsafe. Shoppers instead turned to subscriptions instead of risking their wellbeing in addition to the limitation of lockdown.

Compared to the average, beauty subscriptions rose by 100%. At first, this statistic seems surprising, but it aligns with the preferences of shoppers for comfort products. Beauty items switched from being all about cosmetics to an act of self-care during the quarantine.

While you would expect the health industry to have the highest subscription enrollment, it had the lowest amongst the 5 industries we evaluated as low as 25% while the Home goods had 28%.

Best Performing Products

Here are the products with the best performance segmented by industry since the inception of COVID-19.

Health & Wellness

  • Dietary supplements (women)
  • Weight loss supplements
  • Fish oil


  • Facial cream
  • Shaving blades
  • Concealer

Food & Grocery

  • Snack bars
  • Coffee
  • Hot chocolate

Pet Supplies

  • Dog food
  • Dog pads
  • Cat litter

Home Goods

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Refrigerator water filters
  • Prenatal DHA

We anticipate subscription rates to grow higher than pre-COVID estimates throughout 2021. In response to the change in customer purchasing behavior triggered by the health crisis, we expect more businesses to adopt the subscription business model.

Ready to implement subscription for your product/service or to improve your subscription outcomes? To learn how Chargezen will help you unlock your recurring revenue potential, click the Get Started link right away or write me at success@trychargezen.co.

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