Some Consumers Are Cutting Back on Subscriptions

October 6, 2022

Average subscriptions levels are falling across several categories, reports Kantar in new research examining the state of subscription services. While there has been a modest amount of growth in the average number of subscriptions held in a few categories – including entertainment services and pet services – there has been a decline in several others.

The average number of streaming service subscriptions held by consumers dipped slightly between April (2.98) and August (2.83), though this remains the category where respondents hold the most subscriptions. There was a larger 10% drop in the number of newspaper/book subscriptions held (from 2.74 to 2.47), while the biggest decrease (-16%) was for the number of food/meal kit subscriptions (from 2.07 to 1.75). Recent research from Gallup indicates that while online grocery shopping has continued to grow in popularity, meal kits have not enjoyed the same sustained increase in adoption.

Overall, respondents averaged slightly fewer subscriptions in August than in April.

Kantar’s research also indicates that people are open to canceling some subscription services more than others. At the top of the list are food and meal kit subscriptions, which almost 3 in 10 (28.6% of) respondents would cancel. Close behind, 27.6% would cancel at least one clothing/cosmetics/personal care subscription, while 1 in 4 would cancel a gym subscription.

Not surprisingly, the subscription services that people are least willing to cancel are perceived to be more essential in nature, ranging from utilities (13.8%) to cellphone (12.3%), insurance (11.6%) and broadband (10.8%).

Separately, a survey from SurePayroll, a Paychex company, finds that only 17% of respondents believe there are additional subscriptions they need, slightly outweighed by the 20% who feel that they have too many subscriptions. Among the latter group, the subscriptions that they would most consider canceling are streaming services, Amazon Prime, and cable, though food delivery and fitness also are in the top tier.

About the Data: The Kantar results are based on an August survey of 1,000 US respondents, while the SurePayroll results are based on a July survey of 1,036 US adults ages 18-65.

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