Subscription offers in business-to-business markets: Conceptualization, taxonomy, and framework for growth

Christian Kowalkowski*, Wolfgang Ulaga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The global Subscription Economy has grown tremendously in recent years. Subscription offers are today increasingly regarded as a strategic imperative in many consumer industries. While business-to-business (B2B) service firms have also adopted subscription models, goods-centric B2B players struggle to implement such offers. Against this backdrop, we (1) delineate what characterizes subscription offers in B2B markets, (2) present a classification framework for B2B subscriptions, and (3) discuss how companies can leverage the potential of subscriptions for growth. Relying on in-depth interviews with 27 executives responsible for subscriptions, we outline four key characteristics and distinctive features of subscriptions and provide a refined definition. Next, we develop a taxonomy that classifies subscription offers into four distinct categories based on two dimensions: service focus and resource integration. This classification framework is essential as it adds depth and precision to the analysis of B2B subscriptions. Without it, the assessment would be overly simplified and lacking in detail. We also demonstrate how subscriptions can help firms seize growth opportunities and enhance the customer experience. From a managerial perspective, this study highlights the need for fundamental changes in marketing, sales, and other functions when moving to subscription offers.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalIndustrial Marketing Management
Volume117
Pages (from-to)440-456
Number of pages17
ISSN0019-8501
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 02.2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • B2B subscriptions
  • Business model innovation
  • Customer success
  • Digitalization
  • Recurring revenue models
  • Servitization

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