Research Outline

Companion Apps for Subscription Boxes


To establish details surrounding the propensity of consumers wanting a companion app that works with their subscription box. Ideally, quantifying an answer to "how much more likely is a person likely to subscribe to, or how much more might they be willing to pay for, a "box subscription service" if that service came with access to a companion mobile app?" is desired.

Early Findings

Both Shorr and McKinsey have conducted in-depth research on the preferences and wants of consumers surrounding subscription boxes. Findings from that research have been included below.

Insights from Shorr

  • The average life cycle of a subscription box is 125 days, though women tend to keep boxes active for about 132 days.
  • The top reasons for canceling include price and unhappiness with the product.
  • 76% of consumers state that custom packaging is likely to be noticed and over half discuss this packaging with family or friends.

Insights from McKinsey

  • McKinsey surveyed 5,000 people to "assess the overall penetration of e-commerce subscription services and the demographics and buying behavior of these consumers."
  • When asked which they had purchased or subscribed to in the past twelve months, 11% indicated that they had initiated both a subscription box and a media subscription. However, of important note, media subscription with the survey was described as a stand-alone service like ClassPass or Netflix and not a companion media element.
  • "E-commerce subscribers tend to be younger urbanites with money. Compared with the general US population, they are more likely to be 25 to 44 years old, to have incomes from $50,000 to $100,000, and to live in urban environments in the Northeastern United States. These subscriptions particularly appeal to women, who account for 60 percent of them."
  • "Consumers do not have an inherent love of subscriptions. If anything, the requirement to sign up for a recurring one dampens demand and makes it harder to acquire customers. Rather, they want a great end-to-end experience and are willing to subscribe only where automated purchasing gives them tangible benefits, such as lower costs or increased personalization."
  • "To continue subscribing, consumers (particularly curation and access subscribers) expect personalized subscriptions to become more tailored over time: 28% of both groups said that a personalized experience was the most important reason for continuing to subscribe. Curation subscribers also want to be surprised and delighted and to feel they are getting good value for the money. In contrast, access subscribers emphasize convenience as a reason to subscribe, in addition to personalization. For replenishment subscribers, convenience (24%) was the most important consideration, though value for the money (23%) and personalized experiences (22%) were also important."


The time constraints of the discovery portion of research allowed for initial review to establish viability of continued research. No findings during this phase indicate that a definitive answer inline with established goals is likely to be uncovered within the public domain. This is very likely due to the fact that no major research entity has explored the desires of consumers for companion products.

As such, it is suggested that research pivot somewhat and provide either a SWOT analysis of the subscription box market — which could then highlight whitespace within the market in which a companion app could prove beneficial — and/or a demographic and psychographic profile of the typical subscription box consumer — which would allow a holistic view of the consumer to emphasize their desires in the products they purchase.

As a final and important note, Wonder only uses publicly available sources. We do not conduct primary research (for example surveys), nor do we have access to paid databases or paywalled reports. If paywalled sources are located, they will be cited in research for reference only (in case purchase is desired), however no indication of paid resources which would add value to this research was uncovered during in the discovery phase.