How CGs Can Thrive with Household Product Subscriptions


Last year, many households became offices, day cares, schools and everything in betweenWith so much more going on inside of it, maintaining the home was more challenging than ever.

As such, many customers turned to online shopping, and especially to subscriptions, to purchase their household essentials from the comfort of their home.

In fact, according to Ordergroove data, household products saw a 288% increase in subscriptions during 2020, with diapers and wipes leading the categoryFollowing COVID-19, consumers are in a prime place to continue adopting subscription services to keep up with everyday essentials like air filters and laundry supplies, as well as home comforts like candles and plants.

[See also: Retaining the New Consumer Through the Power of Technology]

Because of increased demand, it’s important brands understand what makes subscriptions attractive to consumers and how to deliver a superior experience.

Understand the Competition and COVID-19’s Impact

The household products space is a varied and nuanced one. While air filters have long average order frequencies and high average order value, dish soap lasts for a shorter time and is often bought as a one-off. Meanwhile, the category has some stiff competition with many products widely available everywhere from the grocery store to the corner store. This makes a strategic approach to these subscriptions a must to ensure ROI.

With COVID-19 causing a major tailwind in subscription adoption, CGs’ focus this year must shift from purely acquiring subscribers to a retention-focused model where they keep customers engaged and deliver on the promise of convenience. How can they do this amid the crowded space?

Overcome the Convenience Challenge

While beauty products or supplements lend themselves to a routine (and therefore high brand loyalty), customers tend to value convenience over brand preference when they need a homecare product. This is true even for major companies like Clorox. If a consumer needs to clean their home before company arrives, they’ll generally grab whatever suits their immediate needs from the store rather than specifically seek out Clorox products.

To compete with this level of convenience, CGs’ subscriptions need to meet customers where and when they need a product. This means consistent delivery and a flexible program. Brands can offer customers several different options for flexibility on the order level to make subscriptions easy to manage and maintain, such as: 

  • Delivery date
  • Frequency 
  • Product quantity 
  • Product swap
  • Billing change 

Focus on the Customer Experience

In general, subscriptions can be extremely impactful when brands provide a great product, at a good value that works with a consumer’s lifestyle.

To reach customers and build loyalty at a deeper level, retailers should create a well-rounded value proposition that resonates with the customer. If done correctly, this can build a connection that elevates consumers’ relationship from ad hoc purchasing to long-term subscribing.

This requires focusing on the customer experience and how the product fits into everyday life. Wrapping brand and product messaging into experience messaging can help customers appreciate the value in a consistent subscription, with no interruptions.

For example, an online plant delivery company can make it clear that it understands the struggle of parents at home, working and caring for their children, while emphasizing how adding plant-life to the home is beneficial for the household’s overall wellbeing. These appeals to experiences and the lifestyles of consumers can be extremely impactful.

Work With Channel Partners

For big-box retailers and brands in particular, a key strategy is working with channel partners to develop subscription programs. For example, a retailer selling many different laundry detergents may partner with Downy to launch a subscription program with only Downy products. This benefits the retailer by having Downy support the promotion of this offering and benefits Downy by taking in-store market share from competitors.

Retain Customers After COVID-19’s Subscription Boom

Many consumers during COVID-19 have made it clear that they’re interested in subscriptions for their household products. Given an inevitable return to in-store shopping, brands must ensure that the customers they’ve acquired during the pandemic remain loyal well into the future.

To do so, they must offer reliable, cost-effective, personalized and unique subscription experiences. Doing so will help CGs build loyalty and keep their customers happy month after month.

Casey Burt is senior strategic client director at Ordergroove.

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