Research

What Does Your Subscription Stack Look Like? [Study]

What Does Your Subscription Stack Look Like?

Key Takeaways:

  • Overall, video streaming subscriptions were the most popular among all subscription types (96%), followed by music subscriptions (80%) and food subscriptions (57%).
  • On average, respondents across all generations reported spending roughly $278 per month on subscription services; Generation Z reported paying the most, at roughly $377 per month.
  • The most common subscription pairing among all respondents was Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (48%).

Generational Subscribers: From Boomer to Zoomer 

Nothing seems to highlight generational differences quite like technological advancement. As America’s consumer economy continues to service what’s been referred to as the “on-demand culture” of Generation Z, it’s certainly interesting to consider how, say, older generations acclimate themselves to this environment (let’s just say the phrase “OK boomer” exists for a reason). 

When it comes to interests, hobbies, and even certain necessities, how do different age groups make use of the fruits of the digital age? More particularly, how do subscription patterns to services like Netflix, Spotify, or UberEats vary across generations? We surveyed 1,030 respondents, ranging from baby boomers to Gen Zers, in order to shed some light on this question. Read on to find out more!

Netflix and Chill: An American Pastime

Depending on which age group you belong to, it may seem obvious what kinds of subscriptions are the most popular. But how would you fit in among other age groups?

The most popular online subscriptions

As it turns out, the subscription types that came out on top were video streaming (surprise, surprise) and music. Both of these were the most popular by a long shot, with 96% and 80% of respondents claiming subscriptions in these categories, respectively. The next most popular subscription type was food, at 57%.

With regards to how subscription types varied across generations, it appeared that the youngest generation had the strongest and most diverse tastes. More specifically, when calculating the percentage of Gen Zers that had each subscription type in comparison with all other generations, we observed that Gen Zers were …

  • 4.2% more likely to have a video subscription
  • 26.3% more likely to have a music subscription
  • 60.8% more likely to have a food subscription
  • 69.4% more likely to have a miscellaneous subscription
  • 79.5% more likely to have a beauty, health, and wellness subscription

What Are Average Subscribers Into?

Having found out which subscription services are the most popular across every generation, we wanted to take a closer look at the specifics of the average baby boomer, Gen Xer, millennial, and Gen Zer subscription stack. Which subscriptions are most associated with each generation in every category? 

Generational subscription stacks

Overall, we observed many differences among each generation’s associated subscription stack. Amazon Prime Video, the overall subscription favorite, seemed to be most preferred by baby boomers, while younger generations had a greater affiliation with Hulu or Apple TV+. Amazon Music Unlimited’s users were more likely to be Gen Xers and Gen Zers, while millennials aligned most with Spotify.

Which Subscriptions Are All the Rage? And for Whom?

Beyond general subscription types, what specific services are the most popular? We take a look at favorites within each subscription category.

Video Streaming Subscription Favorites

OverallBaby BoomersGeneration X MillennialsGeneration Z
Amazon Music Unlimited (39%)Amazon Music Unlimited (32%)Amazon Music Unlimited (39%)Spotify (49%)Amazon Music Unlimited (53%)
Spotify (35%)YouTube Music (24%)Spotify (30%)Amazon Music Unlimited (33%)Apple Music (39%)
Apple Music (29%)Apple Music (22%)Apple Music (27%)YouTube Music (33%)Spotify (39%)
YouTube Music (29%)Google Play Music (19%)YouTube Music (27%)Apple Music (29%)YouTube Music (32%)
Google Play Music (21%)Spotify (18%)Google Play Music (16%)Google Play Music (23%)Google Play Music (24%)

Of the top eight most popular video streaming subscriptions, Amazon Prime Video was most favored, with 72% of all respondents subscribing to it. This figure makes Amazon Prime Video a notable 10.1 percentage points more popular than Netflix, which came in second (62%), followed by Disney+ (43%), Hulu (34%), and HBO Max (24%).

Music Subscription Favorites

OverallBaby BoomersGeneration X MillennialsGeneration Z
Amazon Music Unlimited (32%)Amazon Music Unlimited (39%)Amazon Music Unlimited (39%)Spotify (49%)Amazon Music Unlimited (53%)
Spotify (35%)YouTube Music (24%)Spotify (30%)Amazon Music Unlimited (33%)Apple Music (39%)
Apple Music (29%)Apple Music (22%)Apple Music (27%)YouTube Music (33%)Spotify (39%)
YouTube Music (29%)Google Play Music (19%)YouTube Music (27%)Apple Music (29%)YouTube Music (32%)
Google Play Music (21%)Spotify (18%)Google Play Music (16%)Google Play Music (23%)Google Play Music (24%)

When it came to music subscription services, tastes were less clearly defined. Amazon Music Unlimited was the overall favorite with 39%; however, Spotify usage was close behind with 35% of all respondents subscribing to it. Music subscriptions were also rated less consistently across generations. For example, Spotify was particularly popular among millennials with a subscription rate of 49%, while Amazon Music Unlimited was the fan-favorite among Gen Zers (53%).

Food Subscription Favorites

OverallBaby BoomersGeneration X MillennialsGeneration Z
Blue Apron (17%)Candy Club (15%)Hello Fresh (14%)Blue Apron (18%)Blue Apron (25%)
Candy Club (16%)Blue Apron (12%)Blue Apron (13%)DoorDash DashPass (15%)Candy Club (25%)
Grubhub+ (14%)ButcherBox (11%)Candy Club (13%)UberEats Pass (14%)Grubhub+ (24%)
HelloFresh (14%)UberEats Pass (11%)ButcherBox (11%)Candy Club (14%)HelloFresh (18%)
Aprés (12%)HelloFresh (10%)Aprés (11%)Google Play Music (23%)Aprés (17%)

With regards to food service subscriptions, subscription rates were relatively equally distributed. Though Blue Apron was the most popular at 17%, Graze (in 10th place) had a 11% usage rate, showing a relatively small difference between the two. Furthermore, Blue Apron, Candy Club, and GrubHub+ were particularly popular subscriptions for Gen Zers, with each having subscription rates of 25%, 25%, and 24%, respectively.

Miscellaneous Subscription Favorites

OverallBaby BoomersGeneration X MillennialsGeneration Z
BarkBox (14%)BarkBox (13%)BarkBox (13%)CyberGhost (15%)BarkBox (20%)
CyberGhost (13%)CyberGhost (12%)Bullymake Box (12%)BarkBox (14%)Jinx (19%)
Bullymake Box (12%)Bullymake Box (10%)Bloomin’ Bin (11%)Bullymake Box (12%)CyberGhost (18%)
Bloomin’ Bin (12%)Bloomin’ Bin (10%)CyberGhost (10%)Bloomin’ Bin (11%)CatLadyBox (18%)
CatLadyBox (12%)CatLadyBox (9%)CatLadyBox (9%)CatLadyBox (11%)Bloomin’ Bin (17%)

Miscellaneous subscription rates were relatively similar overall. BarkBox, a subscription service for dog products and services, was the most commonly subscribed to, at 14%. Subscription rates were somewhat low across the generational board, though Jinx, a premium dog food subscription service, was particularly popular with Gen Zers in comparison to other age groups, with a rate of 19%.

Beauty, Health, and Wellness Subscription Favorites

OverallBaby BoomersGeneration X MillennialsGeneration Z
BeautyFIX (14%)Beauty Heroes (12%)Aura Premium (13%)BeautyFIX (15%)BeautyFIX (25%)
Beauty Heroes (13%)Aura Premium (11%)Allure Beauty Box (12%)Hubble (14%)Hubble (19%)
Allure Beauty Box (13%)BeautyFIX (10%)Beauty Heroes (11%)Beauty Heroes (13%)Ten Percent Happier (19%)
Hubble (13%)Allure Beauty Box (10%)Ten Percent Happier (9%)Allure Beauty Box (13%)Beauty Heroes (18%)
Aura Premium (12%)Birchbox (10%)BeautyFIX (9%)Headspace (11%)Allure Beauty Box (17%)

Last but not least, we have beauty, health, and wellness subscriptions. Again, it appears that overall subscription rates are relatively equal. The most popular service was BeautyFIX, with a 14% overall subscription rate. Gen Zers seemed to have the largest affinity toward this brand, with a subscription rate of 25%.

Show Me the Money 

The amount a person spends on subscriptions can vary greatly. To get some average figures, we asked our respondents how much of their budget they commit to subscription services each month. 

The most expensive subscription type was food, with respondents of all ages spending an average of $124 on this category each month. It also turns out there are some high rollers in Generation Z. That is to say that the average Gen Zer spent roughly double the amount of all other generations in 3 out of 5 subscription categories (food, miscellaneous, and beauty, health, and wellness). In total, Gen Zers spent an average of $377 per month – significantly more than their less subscription-savvy elders

Doubling Down: Subscription Pairings 

Since people are fairly multifaceted, it’s fair to assume they have more than one way of spending their time and money. In terms of subscriptions, what were the most common service combinations among our respondents? 

Common subscription pairings

Netflix with Amazon Prime Video was the most popular pairing across the board, echoing the popularity of video streaming subscriptions as a whole. Focusing on combinations of different category types only, Amazon Music Unlimited and Amazon Prime Video topped the list for all generations, except millennials who preferred Spotify and Netflix. Regardless of generation, though, the top combination for each consisted of a video streaming subscription and a music subscription. 

Subscriptions on the Rise

Subscriptions of all categories were typically most popular with younger generations. Gen Zers, in particular, spent nearly twice as much on subscriptions compared to all other generations (and especially on food subscriptions), while at least 80% of Gen Zers had subscriptions in 4 of the 5 essential subscription categories. As a result, it is safe to assume that paying for subscriptions is becoming increasingly popular, with no sign of a fall from grace anytime soon.

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Methodology and Limitations

For this study, we surveyed 1,030 respondents across all age groups via Amazon MTurk. 47.9% of respondents identified as women, 51.9% identified as men, and the remaining 0.2% identified as nonbinary. Generationally, the breakdown was as follows: 23.8% baby boomers, 28% Generation X, 27.6% millennials, and 20.6% Generation Z. Additionally, the average age of respondents was 40.7 years with a standard deviation of 14.4 years.

The main limitation of this portion of the study is its reliance on self-report, which is faced with several issues, such as, but not limited to, attribution, exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping.

Additionally, in order to calculate subscription spending among respondents, we sourced subscription costs for each service. In order to remain consistent, all costs were estimated according to the base subscription plan.

Fair Use Statement 

Given the increasing popularity of subscription services, it’s certainly to your advantage to further this discussion. If you find our data useful, feel free to spread the knowledge. Just make sure you do so for non-commercial purposes and provide a link back to our site.