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Access Subscriptions: Transformational Growth For Health And Wellness Brands



As early as 2016, brand leaders in the ecommerce space started to see the value in bringing subscriptions to their customers: Between 2012 and 2016, the sales of subscription economy businesses in the U.S. grew nine times faster than sales of companies in the S&P 500, and more than four times the rate of U.S. retail sales.

In fact, according to data from the Subscription Trade Association (SUBTA), by 2023, 75% of organizations will be selling D2C subscription services. 

Why subscriptions? A CBS Insights report highlights several factors for the rapid rise of subscriptions, including “advances in the tech infrastructure that supports it” as well as “the subscription model aligning incentives on both sides of the equation, offering stability for business and affordability and convenience for consumers.” In other words, the subscription model can be a win-win for businesses and their customers.

Access to promote personal wellbeing

A recent Bold Commerce survey of nearly 800 subscription brands found health and fitness verticals reported experiencing monthly growth rates of 25% or more in 2021.

As fast as the subscription economy is growing we are seeing the emergence of unique subscription models. Access subscriptions provide customers with added value through additional products, services and experiences only available to subscribers.

An Insights report notes, “Increasingly, subscription models have grown to include companies where the ‘product’ being offered isn’t a product at all — it’s a service, and the value being provided isn’t ownership, but access.”

“The health and wellness sector is well suited for access based subscriptions. It provides education and interaction with experts, early access to new products, and tailored programs or delivery options for VIP customers,” says Jay Myers, Co-Founder, Bold Commerce. 

In our comprehensive ebook 7 Subscription Models to Master the access subscription model is further broken down into two categories:

  • Exclusive – Offer subscribers lower prices, virtual content, or members-only perks for a recurring fee. 
  • Brick and Mortar – Offer members an exclusive subscription program with online services, in-store experiences, and physical products. 

Both of these access subscription models have found relevance in the health and wellness space. A growing collection of software and services are emerging, with the goal of improving users’ physical and mental health. Let’s check out some brands that are gaining increased traction in this ultra-competitive industry with access subscription models.

Fitbit Premium

Fitbit offers subscription plans with a range of perks and premium options. Members of Fitbit Premium earn access to hundreds of video and audio workouts, as well as receiving customized insights, a sleep score breakdown, and a wellness report based on Fitbit stats. 

Fitbit Premium also allows members to create challenges for other Fitbit users to join and engage with regularly, creating an active and involved community. 

Users can subscribe to a monthly membership, or save 30% by subscribing annually. The reduced cost of the annual subscription offers a powerful incentive for Fitbit customers to provide stable recurring revenue. 

Key Insights: Exclusive access subscriptions work especially well in the health a wellness world, especially when linked to a physical product like a FitBit or any kind of exercise equipment. If customers have invested in the equipment, chances are they will be interested in spending a bit more to maximize the quality of their usage of it. 


The Headspace app was founded by a sports scientist turned Buddhist monk who spent over 10 years studying meditation and mindfulness. After consulting politicians, athletes, and business leaders, the idea for an app was born.

Customers can subscribe and access the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere. Subscribers also gain exclusive access to guided meditations, animations, articles and videos, all in the distinct Headspace style.

Headspace uses multiple value incentives to entice customers to subscribe annually, including a significantly lower monthly fee and an extended trial period. 

Key takeaway: The Headspace Plus premium membership offers users exclusive access to hundreds of meditations, sleep exercises, bedtime sounds, and wind downs, daily meditations, as well as a Move Mode for mind and body fitness. With this much extra content and added value, meditation aficionados will have a tough time cancelling their subscription. 


This mental-health and wellness subscription provides users with the tools to overcome negative thoughts, stress, and life’s challenges. With a revolutionary science and data-backed approach to mental health, Happify can help individuals, as well as businesses and organizations feel their best and reach their full potential.

Subscribers gain access to easy and effective activities and games they can engage with from anywhere with a goal of improving their emotional wellbeing. 

Customers start with a brief onboarding quiz that grants access to free features tailored to their needs. For those interested in Happify plus, they can choose from multiple subscription options, including monthly, annually, two year, and a unique lifetime subscription. 

Happy Plus members gain access to over 60 expert tracks, extra character strengths and an exclusive 20-page report, over 300 guided meditations and other value-added perks and features. 

Key Takeaway: Happify offers a generous amount of free content and features for those who are interested in trying it out. Users who experience results and have a positive experience on their mental wellbeing will be more likely to subscribe to one of the different payment intervals—or even for a lifelong subscription. 

Advantage of the Access subscriptions model 

With the access model, the exclusive perks and features unlocked through the subscription typically can’t be purchased outside of signing up. This model works extra well when paired with an initial purchase the membership unlocks additional features for — like a Peloton workout class subscription on top of the bike, or access to PSPlus on top of a Playstation.

1. Layer additional benefits into an existing subscription model.

2. Create added perceived value by not just focusing on commodity acquisition of a product.

3. Build a community of advocates, not just customers.

4. Customers who have already purchased a product are more likely to subscribe to additional features and benefits to enhance their experience.

5. Can be applied to just about any subscription product or industry — Apparel, food and beverage, sports equipment and fitness, furniture, digital products.

For health and wellness brands looking to provide content, expertise, and leadership designed to transform and empower customers, the access arrangement could be a key strategy for driving consistent, reliable, scalable growth. 

Enhance your health and wellness subscription brand with even more insights

Download Future-fit ecommerce: A complete guide to growing health and wellness subscriptions in 2021

This originally appeared on Bold Commerce and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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