Two Conversations: The Product Economy Versus the Subscription Economy

May 14, 2014

TaraTara Mancini, Account Executive



My name is Tara Mancini, and I’m really excited to be a new Account Executive here at Zuora. I moved out from New York for this job, and when friends and family ask me why (“California? Really? Zuora? What kind of name is that?” etc), I tell them about two conversations I recently had with customer service representatives. The first one, with a well-known women’s clothing company, went something like this:


“Hi. My name is Tara Mancini and I just ordered a bikini but I’d like to change the color. Can you send me the same model in a different color?”


“Of course.”




“But I will have to double book you temporarily because I’m sending you two bikinis.”


“But I don’t want two bikinis. I just want one. In a different color.”


“When you receive the first bikini you ordered just fill out the return form and return it in the mail and we will credit your account once we receive the bikini. In the meantime I’ll put in an order for the second bikini right now.”


“But I don’t want two bikinis. I just want one. In a different-”


“Well you could wait until you receive your first bikini and then fill out the return form and include it when you send us the bikini and once we receive the bikini we’ll send you the other bikini, but that will obviously take longer.”


“Just forget it.”


“I’m sorry.”


“I’m sorry, too.”


BaremineralsAnd here is a recent conversation I recently had with bareMinerals, a make-up line that I really like. Last year I responded to one of their radio ads and was told about a new monthly subscription service: they offered to  send me my favorite make-up every month at a discount, and throw some freebies in as well. I really like their stuff and I don’t like running out of make-up, so I signed up on the spot:


“Hi my name is Tara Mancini I belong to your monthly subscription club.”


“That’s great! How can I help you Tara?”


“Well I really liked the bonus concealer you sent me this month, but the color isn’t right. Can you send me another color?”


“Well that’s not good! We’d be happy to send you another color.”




“No problem. I see that you like our foundations as well. We have another monthly bundle that includes more foundation options. Can I send you some information about it?”




“Great. I’m emailing you the details right now.”


“I love you guys.”


“Aw. We love you too, Tara.”


That conversation is why I love working for Zuora. I’m helping companies be less like the first place and more like bareMinerals. Sure, I knew that their customer sales representative was taking an opportunity to introduce me to a more expensive monthly package, but I was happy to accept the offer, because it was a smart and timely recommendation based on my personal preferences.  To bareMinerals, I’m a valued customer with a detailed buying history. To the other place, I was obviously just a confused bikini buyer.


When a company relies on subscriptions as opposed to one-time sales, it’s entire mindset is different.  It cares about service, it cares about loyalty, and it sees the customer through the lens of a long-term relationship versus a simple transaction.


I still have that dumb bikini, by the way.


Tara Mancini is a Account Executive at Zuora. 


Join us at Subscribed 2014, June 2-4 in San Francisco.