StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.
The subscription economy offers various products and services through a subscription-based model, providing value and convenience to consumers who can access a range of offerings with a single payment. It has expanded into various areas, including digital content, personal grooming, health, and education. This model has become increasingly popular in India, where consumers are looking for cost-effective and convenient ways to access products and services.
According to Statista, the global digital subscription economy was worth $650 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025.
For this Interview, we invited, Harshita Singh, Business Head of Times Prime and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the subscription economy.
StartupTalky: Ms Harshita Singh, please tell us about Times Prime. What was the motivation/vision behind it?
Harshita: A glimpse at your smartphone today will tell you just how many subscription-based services have pervaded our lives. Be it booking a cab, shopping, ordering food, or booking a table at a restaurant, there’s always an app for that. But at some point subscription fatigue has to become a real phenomenon right? This is where Times Prime, the super App from Times Internet, comes into play. Rapidly rising as one of the most preferred lifestyle super-apps, Times Prime offers an extensive range of benefits on a single platform, from shopping to entertainment and lifestyle, brands like Starbucks, Myntra, Uber, Disney+ Hotstar, SonyLIV, Google One, and many more. The idea is simple — instead of paying for different subscription services, pay for one and you can access all of these at once.
StartupTalky: What new services have been added in the past year? What is/are the USP/s of your service?
Harshita: To sustain this growth momentum, we will continue to launch exciting benefits and experiences that are valued by the transacting digital natives in the country. We also want to continually upgrade the app experience to better showcase the new categories and to enable discovery of the range of benefits. The beauty of a subscription offering is that people pay you for their own loyalty. As a platform that gives us a lot of leverage to be a launchpad for new subscriptions, D2C offerings, and ticketed events, thus resulting in monetization opportunities beyond the subscription paywall.
StartupTalky: How has the subscription economy changed in recent years, and how has Times Prime adapted to these changes?
Harshita: The subscription economy is growing worldwide. We have led the industry for 3 years and continued to do so last year by a far margin. Currently, we have a strong presence in the Online-To-Offline (OTO) space as some of Times Prime's benefits and experience can only be enjoyed offline. One good example can be our Grooming & Well-being benefits. Similar to this, our members book curated Times Prime experiences & events like Purple Carpet, The Gourmet Table, History & Food Walks, Photography walks, offers on tea & coffee, and mixology sessions on the platform to enjoy them at some of the top venues with other members. We are seeing strong demand for this category and have a number of exclusive properties in the pipeline.
StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check the company's growth and performance?
Harshita: We have had an exponential growth of 300% over the last 3 years. Renewals are one of the highest benchmarks, and the beauty of a subscription offering is that people pay you for their own loyalty, and we are happy with the increasing rate of renewals. Most of our early members are in their 3rd cycle with us.
StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges Times Prime faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?
Harshita: The country was reeling with COVID last year. But it did not affect Times Prime as the bundle has great breadth and depth. We have a strong OTO portfolio with OTTs, e-commerce partners, and news & learning brands. Times Prime also introduced quite a few digital events for our members and after the first event response, we knew we were on the right track. Due to this, we had no negative impact in fact it had a positive impact on sales.
StartupTalky: What are the important tools and software you use to run Times Prime smoothly?
Harshita: Times Prime is part of the Times Internet Group of companies and this gives us access to in-house software and tools. These have given us quick access to data that is easily consumable across teams and functions.
StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in your industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen between India and the world?
Harshita: The world is shifting to a subscription economy and the same shift is now seen in India. India is a large and diverse country and your marketing tactics change state-wise as well as the size of a town. One shoe does not fit all.
StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, product, and team base in the future?
Harshita: The app has been seeing increasing demand from all regions in India. Over-the-top (OTT) and news content are consumed most often, along with services like cabs, restaurants, grooming, and curated events. Initially trying to get brands to buy into the concept was really difficult. But there is a flywheel that exists in bundles- good brands attract more good brands. We also deliver immense value to our partners - scale, user quality, and transactions, and that's why they choose to be a part of Times Prime year after year.
StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with people reading this article who want to get into entrepreneurship.
Harshita: Identifying the Gap in the market is the most valuable advice to avoid misreading the market demand. Your idea should be profitable and aligned with your interests to grow.
We thank Harshita for spending her valuable time and sharing her learnings with all of us.