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HP CEO Aims to Make Printing Subscription-Based — Will Consumers Bite?

HP

As hardware and software companies alike look to drive recurring, reliable revenue, HP CEO Enrique Lores aims to make printing a subscription-based service. But it is unclear whether consumers are willing to shell out every month for something they are doing less and less.

Lores told CNBC in a recent interview that the company’s “long-term objective is to make printing a subscription,” adding that, as the firm does “shift the business to a subscription [model], not only for printers but for P.C.s and the rest of the products that we build,” it will boost performance.

Users of the brand’s printers may not be thrilled, given that many consumers are frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions they need day to day, and in turn with the rise in their monthly bills. In fact, a significant portion cannot even afford to pay all their recurring charges in full, according to PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” which drew from a survey of more than 2,100 U.S. adults.

The study revealed that 39% of those who had made at least one bill payment in the month prior to being surveyed had made at least one partial payment in the previous year. Plus, 27% had skipped at least one payment. Younger consumers are hit the hardest: those shares go up to 57% and 46%, respectively, for millennials and 57% and 39% for Gen Z consumers.

Plus, consumers may not be seeing home printing as the necessity it once was, and as such, it remains to be seen whether they would be willing to spring for the subscription. HP revealed in its most recent earnings report in November that consumer printing revenue was on the decline, dropping 21% year over year, with fewer consumer units sold, decreasing 18%.

Similarly, Xerox said in its last quarterly report that revenue in its “Print and Other” segment was down 6% year over year, and Brother noted in a Q&A accompanying its last report that “print volume per unit has decreased due to the impact of digitization.”

As such, if consumers are put in a position where they must either pay monthly to be able to print or cut back on printing, finding solutions only when they strictly need them.

Yet, consumers continue to adopt subscriptions. In a 2022 interview with PYMNTS,  Sanjay Kamble, then vice president of product management at sticky.io, disputed the notion that people get fatigued by too many subscriptions, arguing that it is more a matter of the quality of subscriptions on offer.

“Things like decision fatigue, reordering fatigue and restocking fatigue, [these] to me [are] more important,” he said. “Brands who are building trust [and] strengthening it with convenience-boosting experiences will continue to see increased loyalty and increased revenues.”

HP’s consideration of making printing a subscription-based service raises questions about consumer willingness to subscribe. With the growing frustration over multiple subscriptions and declining demand for home printing, the success of this strategy remains uncertain. However, the continued adoption of subscriptions by consumers suggests that brands that prioritize convenience and build trust may still drive long-term loyalty.