Subscription Merchants Alienate Their Best Customers With Excessive Marketing

woman frustrated with online site

To maintain the loyalty of retail subscriptions’ best customers, PYMNTS Intelligence findings show, it is essential to maintain a light touch.

By the Numbers

The report 2023 “The Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: The Loyalty Factor,” a collaboration between PYMNTS Intelligence and, draws from a census-balanced survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to gain greater insight into the state and outlook of subscription commerce business.

graphic, subscription churn

The study identifies loyalists as the top 30% of retail subscribers who generate 79% of total revenue across the retail subscription space. The report found that the most common pain point that these high-value customers cite as a top reason that they would cancel a retail subscription is if a given merchant bombarded them with excessive promotional materials.

The Data in Context

When customers are bombarded with excessive promotions, it can dilute the perceived value of the subscription service or the products it offers. Loyal customers who have subscribed for the quality and convenience may feel that the emphasis on promotions undermines the value proposition they initially signed up for.

Plus, in a conversation last year with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, CEO Brian Bogosian said too many emails add up to pestering a subscriber.

“Say it in a compelling, concise way for me to understand what is the message you’re conveying so that I can understand it and appreciate it and … it took me 15 seconds,” he said.

Additionally, too many promotional materials can overwhelm customers. Instead of feeling excited about new offers, customers may feel burdened by the constant barrage of messages, leading them to disengage or even unsubscribe from the service to escape the overload. Plus, they can clutter the user experience, making it difficult for customers to find relevant information or navigate the subscription platform effectively. Even the most loyal consumers, after all, can be pushed over the edge.