Subscriptions and Long Delivery Intervals

Rob Holthause

March 3, 2020

Quick question: when was the last time you changed your water filter? Or the air filter in your home’s HVAC system? The engine air filter in your car? Do you know what the recommended replacement intervals on those products are?

It’s no surprise if you don’t know, I’d wager that most of us don’t. These products fall into a tricky middle ground in terms of replacement: they’re not designed to last a lifetime, nor are they seldom-used. But they’re also not consumable at the rate of, say, coffee or skin cream or pet food. I can tell you the last time I bought dog food, and roughly how long I have until I’ll need to buy more. But as I stood filling my water bottle the other day, I realized I had no idea how long my water filter had been laboring away in my fridge. I may have been drinking water from a filter that should have been replaced months ago.

Replenishment subscriptions are attractive to customers for the value they add through convenience. Never running out of coffee is convenient. Always having fresh deodorant in your medicine cabinet is convenient. It also saves the time of manually reordering the products that we use the most. But there’s a distinct additional benefit to customers that subscribe to products with longer subscription intervals: the orders themselves serve as reminders for replacement.

Products with longer intervals are often not things that we look at every day – think about the last time you actually looked at your HVAC system – nor are the products where you can actually see yourself running out, like a bottle of vitamins. It makes sense that we forget to replace these items. Out of site, out of mind, right? Subscribing to these products offers the convenience of auto-delivery which also serves as a nudge to the customer that it’s time replace them. That’s incredibly helpful.

That filter in my fridge that I couldn’t remember when I had last changed? Well, I went to and subscribed to it. The subscription will keep me on schedule for replacing it, and I’ll no longer stand at my fridge wondering if my water is a fresh as it should be.

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