'All humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain, seek social acceptance, and avoid rejection' - this line from the book 'Hooked' by Nir Eyal explains a lot about consumer psychology.
Companies are building products that people want to buy because other people are buying it. When a product becomes a topic of free discussion, and its use starts to get associated with social status, people begin to convince themselves that it is a necessity when it's not. The success story of online subscriptions for almost everything is based on a similar foundation.
Let us look at some of the reasons why it is difficult to stop wasting money on unnecessary subscriptions and how you can save up instead.
Fear of missing out has always been a driving force behind much unnecessary expenditure. When Netflix is about to launch the next episode of the show that everyone in your group loves, naturally you want to watch it first and have a discussion about it. It is just that companies have started spending so many resources on trying to understand how people interact with their products that they have begun modifying it in ways that people are hooked and do not want to stop using it.
In an attempt to prevent people from unsubscribing, companies focus on making it super easy for users to subscribe and even give options to put it on auto-renewal forever. Many websites even make it difficult to unsubscribe by keeping the button out of sight and also preventing users from doing it in a single click by popping up a warning screen that compels users to give a second thought to their decision to unsubscribe.
Most monthly subscriptions are priced so that it never feels like a bad deal. Using small ticket amounts to give users a taste of the product and then promising added services or shows only if they subscribe again is one common trick. Most of these companies will also regularly offer time-bound free services to first-time subscribers to build a network effect and retain them as paid subscribers by getting them hooked to one or the other service.
The Cycle Effect
Once we subscribe to a movie platform or a gaming app, we begin to feel like since we have paid for it, we must use it as much as possible, thus creating a cyclical effect. The more we use the product, the more time and energy we are investing in it. This makes it even more challenging to unsubscribe it later. These apps make sure that they have something in the store that will only get unlocked once we subscribe again, like the next episode of the show you have been watching.
It is essential to understand the things that are in play here. We must understand which of these services we actually need and consciously think about how much we are willing to pay for them. We must also try to stay away from options that might potentially turn addictive in the future, costing us not just money but our precious time as well.