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Subscription Offers in Business-To-Business Markets: Conceptualization, Taxonomy, and Framework for Growth

Journal Article
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, the authors (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, the authors outline four key characteristics and distinctive features of subscriptions and provide a refined definition. Next, the authors 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. The authors 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.
Faculty

Professor of Management Practice