I truly love that feeling when my car is freshly washed and I drive out of the gas station feeling so proud of it, and it’s this sense of delight that is driving the extraordinary growth of the global car wash service market. And according to the “International Carwash Association“, more and more people are realising the speed, convenience and efficiency of a professional car wash instead of washing at home.
With this growth in mind, it’s not surprising that an increasing number of car wash retailers are offering subscription packages as a superb way to help us enjoy this delightful experience even more quickly and easily.
In this article, we’re sharing why so many car owners are now choosing to buy a car wash subscription instead of one-off washes, particularly in more mature markets like North America, where the customer is always king.
From its humble origins in the magazine and newspaper industry back in the 17th century, the subscription pricing model has grown to become a powerful business tool that drives recurring revenue for brands across a multitude of industries.
While the business benefits are clear for merchants, this article discusses the value of subscriptions for us as customers, and why a car wash membership program is now seen as the “ultimate convenience”.
1. Superb Value for Money – It Makes us Feel Smart
With 92% of us “constantly” looking for great value deals, an unlimited package to wash our car brings incredible satisfaction. Instead of choosing to use our local car wash service four or five times a year as before, with an unlimited membership, customers instead visit their local forecourt on average three times every MONTH.
That’s nine times more than we ever used the local car wash!
The subscription package even minimises the need to wonder whether to wash the car as often as we’d like, as the pre-paid package removes this limiting behaviour entirely. Once we’ve made the decision to pay for a monthly subscription package, it’s so easy to simply drive in every time we have the opportunity or the weather has muddied the car again, resulting in the nine-fold increase in usage mentioned above.
So, as well as delighting ourselves with our beautifully clean car, the great value we experience from an unlimited package means we feel “smart and savvy”.
What a superb way for customers and brands to feel connected.
2. Subscriptions are So Super Simple
As Leonardo da Vinci famously said “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” – and the same idea was shared by Harvard Business Review in their article entitled “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple“. Overwhelmed by choice, consumers are now “craving a way to combat choice paralysis” and a subscription package gives us exactly that.
We typically visit our local gas station when we need something quickly, and we go in the hope of avoiding queues or delays. Removing the potential for confusion on car wash pricing and products means no embarrassing delays at the till while the attendant explains the options and instructions to use the machine, knowing that impatient customers are waiting in the queue. With the subscription package on my phone, I can do the research and purchase the package in the comfort of my own home or car.
Even better, eliminating the need to go in store for the car wash code is quite simply a breath of fresh air. This is also a benefit that people love to tell their friends and families about, as it creates a sense of sharing when we can help other people make their own car wash experience easier too.
Having grown used to subscriptions with trusted eCommerce brands like Amazon Prime and Netflix, research shows that shoppers increasingly value automated purchasing, so it’s no surprise that this is appealing to us in physical stores in the same way it does with online stores. Perhaps inspired by the experiences with brands like the “Dollar Shave Club”, Mc Kinsey explains that women are likely to have more subscriptions overall, but men have more active subscriptions.
3. Contactless is Just Cleaner
Pre-covid, most of us only noticed hygiene standards when buying food and drink. Since early 2020, visiting any retail store became a health concern, resulting in fewer visits, fewer cash transactions and a strong preference for contactless purchases.
Using MY phone, with MY pre-paid car wash subscription package, I feel so much safer.
No need to touch the machine, or take a paper receipt, avoiding all of the health risks I would otherwise be worried about.
A Member’s Mindset
As customers, we focus on ensuring our needs and wants are met in the easiest and quickest way possible. We choose simplicity, convenience and familiarity – and a subscription package gives us all these and more.
What I enjoy even more is knowing my business is valued, as retailers share the goal of keeping us happy and subscribing over time. Trends in the USA for car wash are increasingly set up as “clubs”, with members enjoying the best deals, packages, insights and offers from their local station. Perhaps it’s the same reason that one station operator in the US reported 5,200 people joining his car wash membership program in just three months! Clearly they’ve built a great experience that customers understand, buy and share with their families and friends.
No wonder it feels like the undisputed way I’ll wash my car in the future!
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialising in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Host of “Let’s Talk Loyalty” Podcast
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing content. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my consulting clients have included Telefonica O2 Priority, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group (UAE), as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards and proud host of the “Let’s Talk Loyalty” podcast – the industry’s first podcast for loyalty marketing professionals.