As retailers explore new strategies in H2 2021 and beyond, they will need to gain greater understanding of which consumer behaviors have shifted permanently, which will revert to those of pre-pandemic times, and which will settle somewhere in the middle.
One segment of ecommerce that retailers can look further into is subscriptions—an especially helpful retail model for replenishment items (e.g., consumer packaged goods or beauty and personal care). Subscription ecommerce sales took off amid the crisis, with 41.0% growth, per our estimates. We forecast that 3.0% of US retail ecommerce sales will come from subscriptions in 2021, totaling $27.67 billion and up more than $10 billion from just two years ago.
This trend is reflected in the newly released "FutureBuy 2021" study from GfK, which found that 23% of respondents (a 7 percentage-point increase over 2020) said they are trying and are likely to continue shopping via subscription services. When broken down by generation, 34% of millennials (up by 16 percentage points) said they are likely to continue this shopping behavior. That was the highest percentage among all cohorts, followed by Gen Xers at 24%.
Additionally, GfK found that many of those who use a subscription shopping service are incentivized to engage with the brand through surveys and quizzes that match them with personalized products. Some 22% of all respondents, and 29% of millennials, said they are likely to continue engaging this way.
So, while subscription services may have gotten a pandemic boost, they have certainly found consumers to continue their ascent.