From streaming services to box-of-the-month kits to software applications, subscriptions are the preferred way for consumers to access convenient products and services. However, companies must meet the preferences across generations to achieve sustainable growth in this competitive landscape.

Understanding the demands and expectations of each subscriber cohort is key to tailor offerings, build strong customer relationships, and ultimately drive long-term revenue.

Get the guide: 10 High-impact tactics for subscription success

Subscription trends across generations

Five main generations are shaping the consumer landscape: Baby Boomers, Gen Jones, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. 

While all groups show similar interest in free trials and loyalty rewards, each generation has its own characteristics, values, and lifestyle preferences that influence its perception of subscriptions.

  • Baby Boomers (age 69-77): These consumers value reliability, loyalty recognition, and price-conscious offers. While they may not be as tech-savvy as younger generations, they appreciate subscriptions that offer free trials and monetary incentives as loyalty rewards. 

  • Gen Jones (age 59-68): Positioned between Boomers and Gen X, Generation Jones shares some traits with both cohorts. They often seek a balance between embracing new technology and cherishing lower costs, discounts, and free items as loyalty rewards.

  • Gen X (age 43-58): As early adopters of technology, Gen X expects seamless digital experiences. They tend to prioritize subscriptions that streamline their busy lives and cater to their specific interests.

  • Millennials (age 27-42): Known for their focus on experiences, this generation is highly receptive to subscription-based services. They seek convenience, customization, and the opportunity to access exclusive offerings.

  • Gen Z (age 11-26): The youngest generation is characterized by its innate digital fluency and a strong preference for authenticity. They appreciate subscription values like personalization more than costs and are more likely to subscribe to services that foster a sense of community and engage them through loyalty incentives. 

The diversity in values, needs, and expectations among generations demands tailored approaches to customer engagement, personalization, and communication. Catering to the preferences of each generation demonstrates empathy and adaptability–crucial traits in a fast-paced and ever-evolving market.

Tailoring subscriptions to meet generation-specific needs

While knowing the demographics of your business is important, you need data that reveals the most profitable subscribers' preferences and motivations to drive more recurring revenue through personalized experiences. 

Our latest consumer report, Boomers to Gen Z: A guide to subscriber preferences, provides actionable insights on signups, loyalty, payments, and communication preferences across generations. 

Signups and free trials

Gen Z (60%) and Millennials (59%) have signed up for one to three subscription services within the past year. The adoption rate among Boomers, however, is lower at 37%.

Across all age groups, 75% of subscribers are more likely to sign up for a service if a free trial is available. For the younger generations, free trials combined with exclusivity are perceived as incentives to initiate and maintain subscriptions.

Learn more: The 5 must-dos to master subscription customer acquisition

Loyalty rewards, retention, and cancellation

While four in five consumers want to be rewarded for loyalty with lower prices, discounts, and upgrades, the value perception in subscriptions varies across consumer cohorts.

For example, loyalty recognition is more important to older generations like Gen Jones than younger generations like Gen Z. Boomers are more cost-conscious than their younger counterparts–they’re always looking for deals and cheaper alternatives.  

Watch now: Optimizing your member journey for growth

Payment and communication preferences

Consumers have many payment options to choose from–and they’ve made their preferences clear. While older generations prefer more conventional payment methods like credit and debit cards, younger generations lean towards digital payments and subscriber wallets.

The same goes for communication channels. Today’s digital landscape allows companies to engage with subscribers through diverse touchpoints. While email is the preferred channel across generations, topic preferences changed by age. 

Recommended reading: The quick-start guide to APMs for subscriptions

Get the consumer report: A guide to subscriber preferences

Delve into subscriber preferences that set each generation apart and create targeted, data-driven strategies to attract, engage, and retain subscribers of every age like never before.

Backed by a comprehensive survey of over 6,500 subscribers in six countries, our new report delves deep into the minds of subscribers across generations to reveal the key factors that influence their decisions.