How Subscription Models Enhance User Engagement

Written by: Will Gikandi

Chief Technology Officer at the Kin Foundation

September 1, 2021

And Can Improve App Earnings in Kin’s Economy

Since the birth of Web 2, we have become so accustomed to subscription models as users that we barely notice them any more. When we stop and think about all the services we are subscribed to, it can be quite a surprising number!

Those of us who enjoy entertainment subscribe to at least one of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney, HBO or Peacock (for wrestling fans). If you look closely though, you come to see that subscriptions are a mature model the online world has adopted recently. Electricity, Gas, Cable and Print Media have all used subscription models for decades. More recently however, subscription models have continued to flourish.

From beauty based products to biscuits, video games to vitamins, pet food to meal kits, the subscription model has exploded upwards of $10 Billion and continues to grow – for good reason.

Why Users Choose Subscription Models

A popular subscription based model

There are several reasons users choose to subscribe to services:

  1. Replenishment — For items users enjoy on a regular basis, this set and forget method is useful as it guarantees delivery on time or continuation of services (e.g. think loot boxes in games).
  2. Curation — Subscribers receive a selection of unique and interesting items on a regular basis, usually tailored to their personal tastes (e.g. think beauty products or refreshment of themes).
  3. Access — Users receive exclusive perks for committing to the service by subscribing (e.g. discounts, VIP access to exclusive features).

Subscription models continue to evolve with new use cases to improve experience as consumers seek out more convenient ways to enjoy their favourite products & digital services.

McKinsey have intriguing research on subscription motivators and have summarized it below.

credit: mcKinsey

Why Subscription Models Work for Kin Developers

Provided developers follow Kin’s valid spend guidelines, we encourage them to experiment with ways that enhance experience. The benefits to developers include:

  1. A higher return on acquisition costs — As long as the consumer is happy, their repeat business is implied at the time of purchase and this ensures consistent revenue from consumers.
  2. Lower retention spend — As long as a consumer is subscribed to the developers service, it means the developer spends less marketing for repeat purchases of certain products. Additionally, subscribed consumers are less likely to churn.
  3. Better earns and financial forecasting — Developers constantly work on maintaining their Active Users (AU). Having a growing list of subscribed customers increasing their AU count cumulatively, in a predictable way. This increases their KRE rewards, and also allows them to predict growth more easily.

Putting Users First

While subscription models do have potential to increase earnings and improve forecasting, it is important to remember that everything we do as developers and our long term goal is to bring meaning to the user. Apps that put the user first do best in the long term. 

As developers try to increase engagement by adding a subscription, they also make sure it only impacts the user experience in a positive way.

credit: Design Leadership

While introducing new features and testing subscription models, the questions to answer are:

  1. How will this model enhance my users’ experience?
  2. How will this model make the experience more pleasurable or meaningful?

Each feature in an app should be geared to this goal and is expressed beautifully in this design leadership article.

Ultimately, a developer who can combine all these elements together (subscription models, compelling reasons to subscribe and a beautiful user experience) creates a situation where they and their users win. As developers increase engagement by adding a subscription, they can also make sure it impacts the user experience in a positive way.


About Kin

Kin is a decentralized cryptocurrency purposely designed to integrate easily across Mobile and Web Apps, with a built-in incentive model that rewards developers for increased usage. Apps built with Kin get paid for creating compelling cryptocurrency-based user experiences, where greater engagement results in shared economic benefits for users and developers. Today, the Kin Ecosystem boasts 60 million wallets, and has distributed over $70M in rewards across 60+ apps since its inception in 2017. Kin is an SPL token on the Solana blockchain, enabling consumer-scale apps to transact swiftly, with minimal-to-no fees. Learn more at Kin.org.

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