Who doesn’t love the excitement of opening a present? Well, that’s precisely the feeling companies that offer subscription boxes are trying to recreate for their customers. What exotic treat, new beauty product or geeky collectable might arrive at your doorstep with the next delivery? Not knowing is part of the fun!
It’s to be expected, then, that subscription box services have become big business in Great Britain. If you’re curious about the latest trends in this industry, you can explore the UK subscription service statistics below and perhaps be inspired to sign up for one yourself.
Let’s have a look.
According to subscription box statistics from GlobalData Consulting, over a quarter of Brits responded that they’d gotten a box for themselves or someone else in early 2019. In addition, in the year leading up to October 2020, 14% of shoppers in the UK had signed up for such a service.
In a 2018 survey, Brits reported that they’d ponied up £2 billion for sign-up services. That’s spectacular, given that just a year prior, a study commissioned by the Royal Mail Group had put the annual spend on subscription boxes at £583.3 million.
A subscription market size study by Barclaycard Payments, which processes nigh on half of the nation’s card transactions, uncovered that UK residents spend an average of £46 a month on subscription box services. Interestingly, men shell out more on subscription boxes per month (£57) and year (£684) than women, who in turn pay an average of £35 a month or £420 a year for these services.
Compared to 2019, spending on subscription boxes increased the most during the lockdown. At the height of it, the year-on-year increase was as much as 50.2%. In response to the soaring demand, 22% of retailers created new subscription box services, with 10% dipping their toes into this market for the first time, adding to the 28% that already offered this type of product.
A subscription box industry analysis showed that beverage subscription boxes fetch the highest average price of £30. Furthermore, the stats indicate that:
Once people sign up for monthly subscription boxes in the UK, they tend to set them and forget them. A survey from February 2020 suggests that over a third of UK nationals review their subscriptions once a year or less. In the same study, 56.1% of the respondents admitted to sometimes forgetting to cancel subscriptions after the free trial period has expired.
The appetite for meal delivery services understandably increased during the lockdown, going from 9% of Britons reporting that they were using recipe boxes in 2019 to 18% saying they’d signed up to receive meal kits in April 2020.
Graze led the pack in food subscription boxes in the UK in 2018, with 12.3% of all subscribers. Other similar brands British residents subscribed to were Hello Fresh, Gousto and Simply Cook.
When it comes to drinks, a survey on delivery subscriptions disclosed that 8.5% of Brits are receiving Pact Coffee’s boxes, whereas 7.6% have a subscription to the London Tea Club. On the other hand, they also like to sample alcoholic beverages through Tipple Box and the Craft Gin Club, with 7.4% and 6.4% of subscriptions, respectively.
According to TV streaming service statistics, in Q1 2020, an estimated 13 million British households had Netflix accounts, making it the most popular monthly subscription. Far behind it in second place was Amazon Prime Video with 7.9 million subscribed homes. The average monthly spend on such online subscription services later that year was £14.09.
(Whistl) (Retail Week)
Research shows that nearly a third of Brits subscribe to skincare, haircare and makeup boxes. The average spend on one of these is £10.99. Unquestionably, the most popular beauty box in the UK is Glossybox, with 8% of people being signed up for it. In turn, Birchbox has an estimated 200,000 subscribers in the country.
(Statista) (GlobalData) (Whistl)
Statistics show that razor and shaving kits are among the most common subscription boxes for men, with 3.3% reporting that they’re using them. In 2020, they were the second most popular type of all sign-up services at 24%.
The male grooming subscriptions market’s overall value was an estimated £20.1 million in 2017, but it’s expected to balloon to a whopping £86 million by 2022. The top-rated brands in this category in the UK are Cornerstone, Harry’s and the Dollar Shave Club.
Among the biggest subscription services in the UK when it comes to fashion are NextUnlimited and ASOS Premier, which had the highest share of subscribers in 2018 of 9.7% and 8.8%, accordingly.
(GlobalData) (Whistl) (Statista)
In addition, another 2% had considered signing up for a petcare subscription box. Young British adults (aged 18-24) had the highest rate of such subscriptions at 5%. As for how much it cost them, the average price of one in 2019 was £12.50. By 2020, these services accounted for 14% of the UK subscription box market.
However, 2.1% of the survey respondents had cancelled or hadn’t renewed them, suggesting that magazine subscription gifts are on their way out. The most popular brand in this category was Stack Magazines, with 6.4% of subscribers.
Subscription boxes for women are a hot ticket. A 2019 survey uncovered that nearly half of women (45%) in the UK got some type of subscription box service. On the other hand, subscription services were used by just 30% of men.
The same survey also found that an average of 43% of Brits aged 32-47 subscribed to at least one box or service. Somewhat unsurprisingly, respondents at the age of 65 and over had the lowest percentage of subscriptions at 17%.
According to UK subscription service statistics, in 2019, 45% of London residents used a subscription box service. Conversely, Northern Ireland had the lowest percentage of only 19%. A bit predictably, the capital’s denizens were most likely to subscribe to tea boxes.
Interestingly, Brummies emerged as the real subscription box aficionados, dropping a hefty £18 million on them in one year. Sheffield residents tended to subscribe to healthy snacks, as 25% and 10% of them were signed up for Graze and Vegan Kind, respectively.
By contrast, 17.8% of Cardiff inhabitants favoured a gin box, whereas Liverpudlians predominantly liked getting regular flower deliveries.
Subscription surveys show that 60.2% of Brits get subscription box services because of the good deals they offer. For example, they estimate that they save approximately £165 every year by subscribing to a service like Amazon Prime.
Furthermore, getting the goods and treats delivered to one’s doorstep was advantageous for 45% of subscription box users in the UK, whereas around a fifth (18.6%) of them just wanted to discover new things through these services.
A 2019 survey suggests that nearly half of Brits signed up for a subscription box service based on word of mouth. Furthermore, the stats indicate that:
Britons don’t buy subscription boxes just for themselves, and when shopping for a present, they do their research. Namely, 43.8% bought them as gifts based on good reviews they’d read. Additionally, UK subscription service statistics show that:
According to a 2019 Royal Mail survey, 58.6% of subscription businesses planned to invest in new subscription boxes or add something new to existing ones, with 51.7% intending to focus strongly on these services in the future.
Less than half (44.8%) of retailers reported that they’d created subscription boxes in the pursuit of greater brand loyalty. Furthermore, they felt that these products offered them more control, namely of their distribution (cited by 34.5%) and marketing and promos (24.1%), while low startup costs enticed this same proportion.
Customer retention and sourcing compelling new products are seen as the top challenges by 20.7% of subscription e-commerce companies. The “churn” rate (the percentage of people who cancel their subscription) in this industry is relatively high, and while nearly 60% of service providers manage to keep new subscribers engaged for up to three months, only about one in ten of them stay signed up for a year or more.
Three-quarters of retailers reported liking sign-up services because they felt they could rely on their subscription box industry revenue more than on one-off sales. Furthermore, 87% believed that joining the UK subscription market helped them stay competitive, while 82% found that it helped them foster customer relationships.
Are subscription boxes profitable internationally? Reports indicate that nine out of ten of these companies generate at least some of their income from overseas. What’s more, 23.8% of subscription box services make as much as half of their sales outside the country. Small businesses in this industry also highlight international access as pivotal to expanding their customer base.
UK subscription service statistics reveal that 46.2% of these companies make at least a portion of their profit from sales to the Republic of Ireland and France. Also, about a third have managed to sell to customers in Germany and Spain, whereas 7.7% are even shipping to countries outside of Europe.
According to projections, the various categories of sign-up wellness services are set to shoot up in popularity by 2022. The male grooming box bracket is likely to swell by 328.6% over 2017, whereas the demand for beauty and health subscription boxes is on track for 203.3% growth.
“Unboxing” is a popular way of giving a shout-out to companies, as more than 90,000 people type this word into the YouTube search bar every month. Since it’s the most broadly used platform in the UK, utilising it could prove a solid advertising strategy for British subscription services. In fact, some UK brands like Birchbox and Glossybox are already using social media channels to promote their goodies and boost sales.
In the increasingly crowded UK subscription box market, one way for companies to remain ahead of the pack is to make their deliveries as seamless as possible. This can be accomplished by making packages small enough to fit through a letterbox, the convenience of which has proven to be a big draw for customers. With a bit of creativity, subscription services have managed to post everything from flowers to wine bottles as if it’s regular mail.
Since we’ve all been cooped up at home recently, it’s hardly a surprise that subscription box services have picked up steam. They’re an affordable and easy way to treat yourself, discover new things, or surprise a loved one on a special occasion, all from the comfort of your own home. And, as these UK subscription service statistics suggest, the possibilities for growth and creating novel products and innovative subscription models in this industry are endless.
Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.