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Innovation or marketing? (KOR)

Aug 24,2019
LEE DONG-HYUN
The author is the deputy editor of the industrial 1 team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

I joined video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service Whatcha Play to watch the HBO series “Chernobyl.” The 19-Emmy nominated series was satisfying, but I suddenly wondered how much digital content I have subscribed to.

I joined Apple Music early on and have paid memberships with Korean and U.S. accounts. Several years ago, I joined Netflix to watch “Narcos,” a Netflix original series. I joined MelOn to listen to music on the Kakao AI speaker in the living room. As each subscription is about 10,000 won ($8.26) a month, a considerable sum is automatically paid.

The subscription economy has started to take root in Korea already. From over-the-top services like Netflix, there are services for getting shirts or food delivered or getting a car ride.

The Columbus Dispatch published an analytical report on the illusion of the subscription economy last month. It starts with a case of a person who wants to watch a Hollywood flick on VOD. But he could not remember if the service he is subscribed to was Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Professor Daniel McCarthy at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business said that the subscription economy’s popularity is a sign of laziness, and by participating in the subscription economy, people buy more goods than consumed or pay the cost of unused commodities. He said that there had been subscription delivery services in the past, such as milk delivery.

Is the subscription economy a new business model in the fourth Industrial Revolution era or a marketing tactic taking advantage of people who forget they are even subscribed? It is a matter that the market will decide in the end.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 23, Page 31