The premise is simple: sign up for the service, pay the company, and each month the product will show up at your door. The business model has been around for quite some time, but recently, the market for these monthly services has expanded. With expansion inevitably come new products and services, and none of them are what you might expect.
Listen to Peter and Jonathan discuss subscription services with Levi King, founder and CEO of Creditera on the fifth episode of The Bcast, Bplan’s official podcast (at 21:30):
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If you’re interested in figuring out whether or not your subscription-based business idea will make the grade, try forecasting your monthly sales. If that works out, you may want to get a lay of the land. Here are some of the strangest online subscription services that we were able to find.
1. The Bacon of the Month Club:
Offering exactly what you’d expect, Bacon Freak provides this meaty subscription for those who are not content with the simple store-bought bacon of their neighborhood. Each month, a variety of bacon, including such products as bacon jerky, will arrive at your doorstep. All you have to do is choose your ‘subscription model and the type of bacon you want. If you think things couldn’t get stranger, you’d be wrong…this company even allows you to order nitrate free bacon and gluten free bacon. Plus, if you’d prefer to ‘pay as you go’ rather than pay up-front, that’s an option too! With 35,000 Facebook followers, it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea…
2. Guitar Affair:
For rock stars without a rock star budget, this is a cheaper alternative to a guitar collection. Guitar Affair works a little bit like today’s TV subscription models. Basically, it’s the Netflix for guitars, offering access to high-end instruments for a monthly fee. All you have to do after you’ve registered is reserve the guitar you want and it will be shipped to you when it is available. Keep it for awhile, play it to your heart’s content, and then simply send it back and move on to a new instrument. Renting a guitar is certainly cheaper than buying a new one each month, and you’ll still get to try out all the guitars you’ve always wanted. Also a great idea for anyone wanting to trial different instruments. Unfortunately Guitar Affair doesn’t seem to be accepting new subscriptions at this stage, but keep them on the books if you’re a music aficionado.
3. Dive Bar Shirt Club:
Do you love dive bars? How about old-style T-shirts? The Dive Bar Shirt Club might just be the service for you. Each month, the club will send you an authentic T-shirt from a real dive bar located somewhere in America. After the month is up, the T-shirt is retired forever, meaning that you get a chance to own something entirely unique. The Dive Bar Shirt Club even has a Dive Bar Crew that travels all over the USA, scoping out the dive bars that subscribers suggest. As of June 2014, monthly membership for this personalized T-shirt will set you back $22. There’s no commitment though so if you get tired of receiving the shirts after a couple of months, you can cancel at no additional expense.
4. Bagel of the Month Club:
Bagel shops across America like to claim that they serve bagels in classic New York style. But why settle for something that aspires to the real thing when you can have the real thing delivered directly to your door. Enter the Bagel of the Month Club. Based in Brooklyn, this company will send you real, freshly baked New York bagels each month. All you have to do is choose your package of bagels (normal, with schmear or dessert), the types of bagels you want included and your subscription period. It will then be shipped directly to our door. Think you can find a better bagel in your area? According to the New York Bagel of the Month Club, ‘Fuggeddaboutit’!
5. Loot Crate:
Loot Crate is a subscription service by the nerd, for the nerd. With the promise to send “awesome” geek and gamer gear monthly, Loot Crate will send you a package of the latest in nerdy clothing, accessories, gadgets, decorations, and more. Chocked full of products from Marvel, DC, Nintendo, LucasArts, Capcom, and more, Loot Crate even enters all subscribers into a competition to win a Mega Crate box valued at $750.
6. Dollar Shave Club:
Shave time, shave money—that is the promise of the Dollar Shave Club. You might remember them from their Super Bowl ad this year, and this is fitting because the Dollar Shave Club is by far the biggest name on this list. Offering a monthly shaving kit for men, the goal is to help save money on shaving equipment by sending quality products to your door each month. Prices start from as little as $1 per month and go up to $9, depending on the razor.
7. The Cannabox:
At the moment, this subscription service can only be taken up by citizens in Washington and Colorado. But, with the midterm elections coming this fall, this market could be expanding rapidly in the not-too-distant future. The Cannabox is a subscription service that delivers smoking products and paraphernalia directly to the subscribers doorstep. The average value of each Cannabox is estimated to be between $30 and $50. The monthly fee for one of these boxes is $19.88.
What’s the weirdest subscription service you’ve come across?
Have we missed any peculiar subscription companies? Leave your comment on our Facebook post below and let us know what your favorite option is. If you run a subscription-based business, what are your challenges?