Rapid changes are taking place in the way people buy things. The U.S. is moving toward a subscription-based economy, driving companies to focus less on individual sales, and more on gaining recurring customers. This trend is seen across industries, in companies like Netflix, Blue Apron, Spotify, Amazon, and now BMW, Mercedes, Audi and General Motors. But, how big is this market, and who is signing up for these subscriptions? More importantly, how does this subscription-based economy impact the retail automotive industry and the lenders who support it?
The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent per year over the past five years, with the largest retailers generating more than $2.6B in sales in 2016, up from $57.0M in 2011. E-commerce subscribers are most likely to be 25 to 44 years old, to have incomes from $50,000 to $100,000, and live in urban environments in the Northeastern U.S. Women account for 60 percent of subscriptions. But men are more likely to have three or more active subscriptions suggesting that men value automated purchasing to save time. These numbers track well with the potential prime auto loan customers that lenders crave, and they are reflective of the coveted Millennial consumer base.
There are numerous reasons why Millennials utilize subscription models, but one of the primary reasons is that this generation sees a greater financial benefit in accessibility over ownership. Nearly 60 percent of Millennials would prefer to rent a home than buy one. They are also the leading proponents of the sharing-economy (e.g., Uber) – thanks to their financial position. Aside from record amounts of student debt, Millennials earn on average 20 percent less than Baby Boomers did at the same stage of life, according to the Federal Reserve. This disparity is the driving force for why Millennials did not run out and buy vehicles and homes as soon as they graduated high school and college. Continue reading