For the foreseeable future, publishers are pinning their hopes on digital subscription, on reigniting the direct relationship they initially lost in the initial pile into digital publishing. A recent study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that 69% of US and European publishers employ some form of paywall around their content, with the vast majority following a metered or freemium model.
Regardless of which model of subscription or membership each outlet has deployed, they each have similar challenges when it comes to the acquisition and retention of users. In that sense they are very similar to other subscription-based products in the entertainment space, from the OTT video services to the innumerable video games subscription services that have been launched in the last year.
The challenges are especially acute for news publishers, however, since news as a commodity. The news market is flooded with free alternatives and news is not the subscription product most consumers opt for.
However, just as the challenges are similar, there are success stories around other subscription products that news publications should consider emulating in their own approach to consumers.
One of those increasingly lucrative consumer subscription products is that of the subscription box. These generally take the form of a batch of products curated and delivered directly to you monthly, sometimes in partnership with a publisher. The range of products offered spans from apparel to hot sauces to sustainably sourced fruit and vegetables. And consumers are responding: Royal Mail predicts the market will be worth £1bn by 2022, and that over a quarter of the UK population has already signed up for a subscription box.