What are the 4 Innovative Subscription Business Models?

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There are many different business models available to entrepreneurs who want to earn money by selling a service or product. The subscription business model is one of those models. Subscription business models charge a customer a regular payment in exchange for access to products or services for a set period of time.

Predictable recurring revenues is the most obvious benefit of this business model. However, there are other benefits inherent in the subscription pricing model, for both the customer and the business.

There are numerous subscription models that entrepreneurs can use to deliver their products and services. The subscription business model is increasingly deployed to different business sectorsfrom automobiles, to healthcare, to Internet of Things (IoT).

UPDATE: We have revisited this topic based recent trends. You can read some of the interesting changes in the subscription business market place in our latest article 9 innovative subscription business models from cradle to space.

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Here are four examples of early roll outs of the subscription business model and what makes them unique.

Personal styling

Today everyone leads busy lives and time for shopping and self-styling is at a minimum.  To address this, personal shopper and stylist services have popped up online.  

Stitch Fix combines e-commerce with the in-store experience of retail shopping and personal styling. They send the customer five items they’ve handpicked for them based on their answers to a lifestyle and fashion questionnaire at the beginning of the subscription.

The customer can then try on the clothes and keep only what fits and what they like. Feedback is also passed back to the stylist, so the next box can be tailored to be more in tune with what the customer likes.

Shaving gear

One of the most popular and recognized subscription services is the Dollar Shave Club.

The service promises to deliver blades to the customer’s door for just one dollar a month. There are other options available as part of the service.

In addition to the blades, each customer gets a free handle and has the option to purchase add-ons such as shaving cream and moisturizer.

The brand entered the market with a unique promotion online that went viral online. Since then, the subscription service has grown and has introduced new lines and improved customer options.

Kids' toys

Indigo is probably one of the more unusual subscriptions services available online.

Not only do customers not have to pay a subscription to receive anything, but their contents are not guaranteed.

The service works like this: a customer subscribes to the site via email or a social media account and every quarter, the company sends out a limited number of boxes randomly to those on the list (you aren’t guaranteed a box each quarter).

Subscribers can increase the chance that they will receive a box by signing up friends, advertising the brand on social media and competing in other activities on the site.

The boxes contain toys, comics, snacks and other items for children.

Travel clubs

Netjets is probably the most unique business models on this list. For a hefty subscription fee, customers can choose how many hours they wish to fly per month and then reserve that time as a share of the private fleet maintained by the company.

This can be an effective way to reduce travel costs for businesses that travel regularly.

There are also similar options for cars.

What about the 'world's first' subscription businesses?

We've also compiled a list of nine of the 'world's first' subscription businesses based on the subscription business model. The list is proof all types of industries from snowboards to airlines to virtual reality (VR) can innovate and experience growth with the subscription business model to open themselves to new markets. 

The rise of subscription fatigue

It's good to keep in mind when you're considering the subscription model that there has been a rise in recent years in a consumer condition known as subscription fatigue. With so many businesses trying out this recurring revenue sales strategy, some consumers are becoming overwhelmed with managing the multitude of subscriptions. 

Determine whether your customers will find it delightfully convenient to receive your offering on a recurring basis, or whether it will encourage them to look elsewhere to fill their needs.


There are a number of options for those looking to start a subscription business. The only barriers to entry are legality and your imagination.

Consider how you can convert your business into a subscription business or what new business you would like to start. As recent years have shown, there is a growing demand by customers for this model.

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