A few years back I realized that my knees and ankles were hurting because I’d put too many miles on my running shoes. No permanent injuries resulted, but a friend who outran his shoes wasn’t so lucky, and he’s got back problems for life.
This is a business opportunity. If you’re a runner, spending $100 every six (or even three) months is infinitely preferable to injury. You’d think that shoe sellers would make it easy to do that, but they don’t. I’d happily authorize regular replacements, but nobody’s ever offered me that option.
Partly I guess this is a failure of service-oriented thinking. My local seller thinks service means taking good care of me when I walk in, and he does. But I think service should also mean helping me manage a lifelong shoe-replacement regimen, and that notion seems not to have sunk in.
Of course planned obsolescence also gets in the way. Once I find a shoe I like, I try to stick with it, but the manufacturers won’t let me. The model I know works well usually isn’t available next time around, so I have to try something different. That’d complicate any kind of subscription service.
I can sort of understand the difference between, say, prescription drugs, which are commodities that I can replace on a subscription basis, and running shoes, which are both fashion items and (supposedly) evolving technologies. But for me, and maybe for a lot of people, what I really want is to regard the running shoe as a commodity I can replace on a subscription basis.
I wonder what else belongs in this category: Products that sellers don’t want to commodify, but that if managed this way would produce recurring revenue and create the opportunity for lifelong service relationships.