Co-curation: Innovating the Subscriber Experience

Rob Holthause

November 27, 2019

According to this McKinsey report from last year, nearly one in six Americans had signed up for a subscription service at some point. The average consumer spends $465 per year on subscription services. Most of us can no longer remember a time before streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. As the subscription market has exploded in recent years, so to has competition – in price, in value added, and in subscriber experience. How can brands set themselves apart? Co-curation is the newest innovation birthed by subscription commerce.

What is co-curation?

In the subscription world, we define the “curated” model as one in which the merchant chooses products for the customer in each box – for example, a customer that is part of a curated wine club would have the selections in each case picked for them. This is different than an auto-ship or subscribe-and-save subscription, in which the customer would always receive the same product, or would choose their own products for their box each month.

Co-curation is a simple, but effective, hybrid: a customer chooses a few products, and based on their selections, the merchant chooses the rest. It’s an excellent way to engage customers, while still maintaining the valuable and elusive “surprise and delight” factor that a curated subscription offers.

Offering real value to customers

Clothing brand Dia&Co rolled out a co-curation service to its customers last week. Dia&Co CEO Nadiah Boujarwah was interviewed for a recent Glossy article, and made clear that the program was implemented specifically with the subscriber experience in mind: “She sees multiple uses cases for shoppers including a customer who knows exactly which dress she wants to wear to an event but has no idea how to accessorize it, or has a specific preference for pants, but is willing to experiment with a top.”

This is a different experience then simply offering a curated box where the merchant chooses items and then subscribers can add their own – in this workflow, the customer’s selections are the basis for what else is included. That makes the whole subscription program feel more personal, and it heightens a customer’s excitement to receive each box.

The concept of co-curation seems quite simple, but we couldn’t have predicted such functionality even just a few years ago. Clothing subscriptions weren’t in existence yet, and most consumers didn’t have the familiarity with subscriptions as they do now. As brands continue to innovate and improve the subscriber experience, expect to see creative and exciting functionality. The one commonality that all new features will share will be a focus on the customer – and that’s a good thing.


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