Kelly Grace

Why Bundling Matters: Elevating Brand Value & Customer Retention

In the ever-changing digital world, publishers continuously look for ways to adapt their business models to stay relevant and profitable. One strategy that has gained traction is bundling, which involves combining different content offerings into a single package. This is a great way to attract new subscribers and offer more value to current ones. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of bundling for publishers, examine current trends in bundling strategies, highlight pitfalls to avoid, and present other noteworthy trends within the subscription economy.

Why Does Bundling Matter?

The Shift from Print to Digital

Historically, print editions were bundled collections of articles, information, services, and games, distributed per issue, at a given frequency. However, the rise of digital technology has disrupted this concept, allowing consumers to access individual articles and content through various platforms online. While this approach offers convenience and flexibility, it has also resulted in a decline in brand value for publishers.

Rebuilding Brands through Bundling

Bundling presents an opportunity for publishers to rebuild brand value and ensure customer retention. By combining print and digital content, publishers can increase the perceived value of their offerings.  Additionally, bundling allows for the logical grouping of diverse content for specific target audiences. Publishers can tailor their bundles to match the specific consumption habits of readers. For example, offering digital and print content on weekends, along with digital-only content during the week, offers customers the efficiency of digital content during busy weekdays with the enjoyment of a slower-paced reading experience on weekends.  Strategically bundling products together can create a greater value proposition for the consumer, leading to increased sales, customer retention, and brand value.  

Trends in Publisher Bundling Strategies

Print and Digital Bundling

Currently, publishers are focused on bundling print and digital content together. This can involve offering digital versions of print publications or combining online news with supplemental printed editions for in-depth investigations. The goal is to provide unlimited access to news while leveraging the unique advantages of both print and digital mediums. 

Transitioning Away from Print

As print volumes and profitability decline, some publishers are eliminating “print-only” content to try and encourage consumers to embrace digital content. With this strategy, these publishers are signaling that they are preparing for an eventual end of printed offerings. Well-known publishers, such as The Economist and The Harvard Business Review, have taken steps in this direction, although they still have a large set of “print-only” subscribers. 

Multi-Brand, Multi-Services Bundles

Many publishers are now launching multi-brand, multi-service bundles that combine various titles, audio/video content, and services, such as television packages or Amazon Prime. This concept is centered around the value for money. An example of this includes Schibsted’s “Superpacket” and Mediahuis’ “Plus” packages, which provide access to digital content from multiple brands within their organizations. 

The Secrets of Successful Bundling

Identifying the Most Valuable Element

To achieve successful bundling, publishers must identify the bundle component that provides the most value to the consumer. This could be content catering to a specific passion, fostering a sense of community, or products offering personal growth opportunities. By concentrating the bundle around this valuable element, publishers can build offerings that align with customers’ needs and expectations. 

Setting Optimal Prices and Enhancing Perceived Value

Publishers should consider the maximum/optimal price customers are willing to pay for the valuable component of the bundle. Publishers could consider raising the prices for certain bundled offerings while reducing prices for others. The objective is to enhance the customer's perception of getting a valuable deal. It's important to provide a variety of combinations that justify higher prices, facilitate upgrades, and contribute to customer retention.

What to Avoid in Bundling Strategies

Value Decline

Combining too many products at a low price can lead to value destruction and make the bundling model unprofitable. In such cases, it may be more acceptable to sell the products separately rather than bundling them.

Confusing Pairings

Publishers need to make sure that their product combinations make sense and align with customer expectations. For profitability, it is crucial that publishers understand what drives customers to purchase and continue subscribing.

Other Subscription Marketing Trends

Targeting “Light Readers”

In response to the slowdown in digital subscription growth and the decline of print, publishers are focusing on reaching “light readers”, who may be less engaged, but still hold potential as customers. This strategy aims to capture their interest and increase subscription rates.

Customer Retention and Fraud Prevention

Publishers are prioritizing customer retention by actively working to combat fraudsters who share passwords and access content illegitimately. These measures ensure legitimate access and strengthen customer relationships.

Diversification and B2B

Publishers are diversifying their revenue streams by exploring e-commerce options, offering training programs, and expanding business-to-business (B2B) services. These initiatives help publishers broaden their reach and take advantage of new opportunities. 

In Summary

Bundling holds significant potential for publishers in the digital age, allowing them to rebuild brand value, retain customers, and increase sales. Staying informed about these emerging subscription marketing trends is crucial for publishers to successfully navigate the evolving landscape. By understanding the key aspects of successful bundling, avoiding common pitfalls, and paying attention to fulfillment and customer service, publishers can leverage bundling as a powerful marketing strategy.

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