PHOENIX — Subscription boxes were an easy way to get clothes or products during the pandemic, but can they really help your budget?
“When I think about it, I’ve been a client for about eight years now,” said Vanessa Chin, who has a subscription to Rent the Runway.
Chin started renting clothes from the company when she needed an outfit for an event.
“I feel like the benefits for someone like me is time, which is very precious,” said Chin. "Money in... that I don’t feel like I overspend on clothing that I may only wear once or twice.”
After that first experience, Chin realized she could use the company for more than just events.
Now, Chin gets five pieces of clothing twice a month, every month.
There are different types of subscription models, all of which give the consumer a product.
It might be something like clothes or make-up that you get at a discount. It could be a rental service, or even Amazon has a subscription model with Amazon Prime.
The expert ABC15 spoke with said saving money or getting the full value, all depends on how you use them.
“It’s a tug-of-war kind of game,” said ASU professor Elliot Rabinovich. “Retailers are trying to get value, customers are trying to get value.”
Rabinovich says with each subscription you need to do the math to make sure you, as the customer, are getting the full value.
For Rent the Runway customers, this means — are you requesting all the shipments available to you?
“You have the product, the value of the products,” said Rabonovich. “If you’re going to events all the time every week, every other day that’s the mental equation you have to think about.”
He says most companies want customers who will pay for the subscription but not use the membership as much, so the company spends less and isn’t responsible for as much work.
In order to really save money, or at least get the full value of your subscription, you have to use it to the full extent.
What can be dangerous are the subscription models that put items in front of you to try out.
“Probability, likelihood is a good fraction of those customers are going to keep these products,” said Rabinovich.
Some of his tips to save money include making sure you're spending money on needs, not just out of habit, and looking at prices.
Chin said recently Rent the Runway has raised its prices, but the quality of clothes she gets for events and work makes it worth it.
“The increase to me still makes the membership worth it, but what I have considered doing is going down a tier,” said Chin. “So, maybe I only get four pieces in my rotation instead of five"