Foods, sports, entertainment… See you in 2050, in a life based on subscriptions

From our future special correspondent (that’s all),

Tuesday, November 1, 2050, 7 am As every waking, Jérémy’s radio (yes, it still exists after thirty years) is playing on the airwaves ofAmazonFM, for which he pays a monthly subscription of 4.99 euros. “The information is not expensive and of high quality”, he convinced himself when he subscribed. Anyway, not much argument is needed: this is his 37th current subscription. By force, the mechanics are broken.

His coffee is due to his Starbucks card, which allows him to drink every morning for a modest cost of 20 euros a month. A true abo-mania, you say? The first signs are already present at the junction of the decades of 2010 and 2020. An Ipsos study from October 2021* indicated that at that time, a French person had accumulated 10 monthly subscriptions on average. “There has been a clear trend towards subscriptions in recent years, it is an emerging market that is set to grow,” predicted Philippe Moati, director of the Society and Consumption Observatory *, in 2022.

The Del Arte revolution

An important step was taken in October of the same year, when the restaurant chain Del Arte offered a subscription that allows you to eat at your table every day, all for 35 euros per month. But why such success for buying in the package? Marcel Botton, CEO of the consulting agency Nomen **, an expert in brands and their promotion, has his own idea: “It has the advantage of reducing the price for the consumer and of offering companies again. In an era where buying habits and behaviors are changing rapidly, building customer loyalty is the most important task. »

Today, in 2050, everyone is subscribed to their favorite restaurants. For Frédéric, it’s Sushis-store and Pizza-ions. But before lunch, an obligatory visit to the Neo-fit gym, there is also a subscription. Head to the metro. Metro reminding him that he still hasn’t removed his public transport subscriber card in Rennes, where he moved three months ago. “Every day, I tell myself to cancel, but I’m lazy and procrastinate. In the meantime, I pay…” Frédéric self-flagellates.

The Netflixation of the market

“The problem with subscription is that it does not adapt to the unexpected. A move, an injury, a trip… We also pay for empty spaces,” says Marcel Botton. From 2021, it showed its influence: 47% of those French felt trapped in a subscription (free month offer, ease of subscription, difficulty of cancellation), and 40% continue to pay for subscriptions they no longer use or hardly use, according to the same Ipsos study.

The most famous case, we will come back to it, is the gym. Subscriber in January, deserter in March… No! It is out of the question to fall into this cliché for Frédéric, in meeting this Tuesday to type his best traction series. The height of happiness after sweating, Neo-fit prepares the strawberry protein shaker that he loves. “This is also the advantage of the subscription for the company: to get to know its customers better, and thus best meet their expectations by maximizing costs and profits”, according to Pierre-Louis Desprez, associate director of Kaos Consulting **. “This is the Netflix effect: the more movies you consume, the better the algorithms will understand your tastes and recommend relevant movies,” Philippe Moati schematizes. This increases the grip of subscriptions on our lives, explains the director: “A subscription needs time to optimize and get to know you well. It becomes more difficult to end it, because you realize that it takes effort to build a successful relationship. »

Frédéric describes it in his shaker: “Back then, Neo-fit would buy bananas, chocolate, apple drinks… when in doubt. Now that everyone is a subscriber, they know who’s getting what, and they’ll make the right purchases. No more waste » This is the subscription promise: to avoid waste. The Vélibonator that Frédéric rides at noon – for which of course he pays a subscription, you start to follow – is the perfect example of this: “Can you imagine the raw materials that would be wasted if every bicycle user bought one? » , congratulates Frédéric.

Service consumption

Already in 2022, Pascale Hébel, co-director of a marketing consulting firm**, gave this analysis: subscription is the transition from the consumption of property to the consumption of use and services. Instead of buying a car, I’ll rent one to go for a walk. In theory, this allows for less consumption, but also makes things too expensive to buy accessible. Sylvie, Frédéric’s wife, subscribes to Decath-X. For thirty euros per month, he can borrow the sports equipment he wants. “This summer, I was able to kayak, paddle, and even sail. Do you think we will have enough to buy all that? Frédéric laughs on his bicycle (whose subscription he has just topped up).

He is here at the Sushi-store. “Myself, I’m not very hungry, but you have to eat there three times a week if I want to earn my package,” said the 30-year-old. A real problem vis-à-vis the ecological crisis, detailed Pierre-Louis Desprez: “The subscription system drives consumption and growth, it is more hidden. But in a world where a French person consumes 2.7 times more than what is needed for the planet, the subscription, which allows you to have everything and consume everything, will benefit from a serious change to become a healthy model. » Pascale Hébel spins the metaphor of the all-you-can-eat buffet: « You will usually eat more than your hunger, to make the purchase profitable ». In other words: how many Netflix movies or series are we missing out on if we have to pay for them individually?

less freedom

Despite a slight stomach ache after the sushi he didn’t like, Frédéric worked all day. “CDI, what is it but another subscription? he laughs. His best friend from work, Romain, offers him a Mexican tonight (he subscribes to the FuturoTacos channel). But for Frédéric, a non-member, it costs 50 euros per meal. Because yes, unit purchases have become overpriced. Already in 2022, cinemas have justified their screenings at 13 euros with popular that “yes, but with the 10-seat pass, it’s cheaper”.

“Companies risk increasing the price per unit, to further encourage the customer to subscribe, expected Pascal Hébel. We will lose the capacity for occasional and unit purchases. There will be less freedom of purchase , of disrespect.” Philippe Moati: “Subscriptions are confined to the consumer, this is their function: that he stays with the brand and does not go elsewhere. True, Frédéric goes to the restaurant every day. But only to two restaurants.

Invisible price increase

Angry at missing this Mexican restaurant, Frédéric went home. Tuesday is invoice day; he discovered (re) the total cost of his subscriptions – about half his salary – and the increase of many of them. An unremarkable increase, and therefore more dangerous: “Most consumers no longer have an idea of ​​the price, what they are spending, of the increases in progress”, Pascale Hébel pointed out. In 2021, 35% of consumers do not know how to accurately list the number of their subscriptions and their monthly costs. Philippe Moati: “The price increases are more stealthy because of the tight grip of the subscription. The consumer is subject to the ”status quo deal”: He tends to copy what he has already done and what He knows. “

Sylvie was already asleep, and Frédéric was asleep when he got up: together AmazonFM. In the meantime, the flat rate has increased to 10 euros per month. Ok, the information is quality, but it’s starting to get expensive…

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