The Straits Times: More people are using subscription services – from food to fitness – to simplify their lives.
Aside from the convenience of automatic and predictable spending, people are also realising the value that comes with subscription services. It’s about building a lifestyle that allows access rather than just ownership.
MS RAENA LIM, co-founder of Style Theory, a clothes-subscription service
Come lunchtime, hedge fund associate Michelle Yeo, 28, often struggles to decide what to eat.
However, a recently launched meal-subscription service has helped her simplify the decision-making process.
She now pre-orders her lunch the evening before on the Mealpal mobile app, which brings together more than 250 restaurants and hawker stalls offering lunch and dinner options on one platform.
“It’s my first time trying out a food-subscription app. I decided to try it out because I get restaurant meals at a discounted price and there are quite a number of options around my work place so I won’t get bored,” says Ms Yeo, who is currently paying the promotional price of $67.88 a month for 12 restaurant and two hawker meals.
The usual subscription price starts at $95.88 a month.
Restaurants on the Mealpal app include Grain Traders and Wafuken, while hawkers such as Spinach Soup at Amoy Street Food Centre and Song Kee Fishball Noodle at Lau Pa Sat have jumped on board. The app launched in Singapore in July this year.
It is one of two United States-based subscription services that have expanded into Singapore in the past two months, joining a growing pool of companies that sell subscriptions involving everything from clothes to entries into playgrounds.
Classpass, a fitness pass with a presence in 50 cities worldwide, launched in early August, with almost 100 boutique gyms and studios in its database.
Another fitness-subscription model that has been in Singapore since 2015 is the home-grown Guavapass.
It has since expanded to 12 markets in Asia and the Middle East, with millennials aged between 24 and 34 making up the bulk of its subscriber base, according to Mr Jeffrey Liu, co-founder and chief executive officer of Guavapass .
Associate Professor Leonard Lee at the National University of Singapore Business School suggests that subscription services are particularly appealing to the younger working crowd because they simplify the decision-making process.
“By pre-committing to such services, it leaves them with more valuable time and cognitive resources to focus on other arguably more important decisions in their daily lives,” he says.
From a financial perspective, such subscription services may also be perceived as “more economical in the long run”, especially among heavy users.
“Because these services essentially decouple consumption from paying, it may allow them to enjoy consuming the subscribed service unencumbered, without having to think about how much they are paying for it,” says Prof Lee.
An added bonus of fitness aggregators such as Classpass and Guavapass is the flexibility to try new types of exercises without having to commit to a specific gym.
Undergraduate Rachel Goh, 23, who has finished a 20-class Guavapass package and is on a free Classpass trial, says: “I used to have a yoga-studio membership, but with these passes, not only do I get to do yoga, I also get to try spinning and boxing.”
Even on the parenting front, there is a subscription service to help busy parents find a wide variety of activities to do with their children.
Launched in October last year, Kinderpass works with 70 partners to offer 400 children’s activities and can be filtered based on age group and interests.
Founder and CEO of Kinderpass Sumedha Khoche, 37, says: “Millennial parents prefer to invest more in experiences and trying out new things rather than just having material possessions.
“The same attitude is reflected in their parenting style, in which they opt for activities that enable them to bond with their kids.”
Entrepreneur Kelly Forbes, 34, and information technology release manager Jesse Forbes, 37, use Kinderpass mainly to go to indoor playgrounds with their one-year-old toddler Carter. The couple have been subscribing to Kinderpass for the past three months.
“Carter is quite an active baby, so it’s great that I can just pay one fixed fee and bring him to different places to play at,” says Mrs Forbes.
Another subscription service that has been around since January 2016 is Singapore-based Style Theory.
The clothing-rental company allows users to rent up to three outfits at a time and offers unlimited swops within the month.
Co-founder of Style Theory Raena Lim, 29, says: “Aside from the convenience of automatic and predictable spending, people are also realising the value that comes with subscription services.
Join thousands of women in our #WomenOfStyleTheory and be part of the fashion rental revolution. Unlock full access to Style Theory subscription service that supports your evolving stylish lifestyle today!
A four-class fitness pass starts at $99 and goes up to $359 for 20 classes. For heavy users, Guavapass also offers unlimited class packages for three and six months at $179 and $169 respectively. At present, there are 240 boutique gyms and studios on the app.
For $50 or $100 a month, users get either 50 or 200 credits to sign up for exercise classes in any of the boutique gyms and studios on the app. The classes are dynamically priced, meaning the number of credits needed to attend a class depends on various factors such as popularity, timing, location and if specific equipment is involved.
For $129 a month, Style Theory lets users rent three outfits at a time and exchange them for three more once the first batch is returned. The clothing-rental company has an inventory of more than 20,000 pieces of clothing from popular brands such as BCBG Generation and Keepsake. Get started here.
Monthly plans range from $29 to $99. Kinderpass works with 70 partners, including Playeum, Kindermusik and Kaboodle, to offer kids activities and events. Parents can narrow down selection by age, time, location and activity type.
Subscription fee starts at $95.88 a month for 12 restaurant meals. For an extra $2, users can get two more hawker meals. Mealpal is currently available in four business hubs: the Central Business District (CBD), Novena, Orchard and Buona Vista.