Study: people vastly under-estimate how much they spend on subscription services

File photo.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
File photo. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Credit: Pascal Le Segretain

Credit: Pascal Le Segretain

They typically shell out twice as much as they think they do

Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Survey after survey shows how dumb Americans are about money.

Here's another one: 84 percent of 2,500 people surveyed by Chicago-based marketing agency Digital Third Coast on behalf of Waterstone Management Group under-estimated how much they spend on subscription services.

On average, people in the survey estimated they spent an average of $111 a month on things like WiFi, cable, apps and Netflix-type services. Actual expenditure: $237 a month.

“I think we let subscriptions fade into the background,” said Andy Kerns, creative director at Digital Third Coast. They show up on our credit card and bank accounts each month in modest increments and we fail to understand their magnitude in totality.

Waterstone, a consulting group, works with subscription-based companies in Silicon Valley. This survey actually helps show why Spotify, Netflix and Blue Apron and other subscription services have thrived in today’s environment.

Plus, people now perceive WiFi and smartphone expenditures as necessities, on par with electricity, heat and water.

“It’s kind of a weird relationship we have with those services,” Kerns said. “People have a hard time acknowledging how hooked they are on their WiFi and smartphones.”

The company asked people upfront how much they think they spend on subscription services. Then they broke down those expenditures one by one to get the usually much higher final total. “People forget about services like Lifelock identity theft protection or GoDaddy web hosting,” she said. “The forget they pay for a fitness app.”

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