The Subscription Economy: Doing What’s Right

April 15, 2020

No one can predict a sudden change in the economic climate — it can happen anywhere, to any business, at any time. We’re, of course, seeing this first hand with the worldwide spread of COVID-19, which has had a significant effect on the global economy.

Yet subscription businesses are proving to be resilient across the board. In fact, our latest Subscription Impact Report found that more than half (53.3% to be exact) of companies with a subscription-based business model have not seen a significant impact to their subscription growth rates. What’s more, 22.5% of companies are seeing their subscription growth rate accelerate!

The truth is, if there’s one thing that underscores the intrinsic nature of the Subscription Economy, it’s the fundamental return to relationships. Customer relationships, after all, are the foundation of any successful subscription business.

In today’s unprecedented time, organizations are challenged with navigating the business implications of COVID-19 while taking this time to double down on relationships and do what’s right for customers and society. But at the end of the day, doing the right thing will go a long way in building customer loyalty and long-term relationships.

In looking at the latest announcements and press articles from the Subscribed community, let’s take a look at how subscription businesses are giving back, doing what’s right for their customers and, ultimately, making an impact:

  • PagerDuty, a SaaS incident response platform for IT departments, is offering healthcare organizations 20 free PagerDuty licenses for six months. And, in an effort to help companies transition to distributed work, they are offering six free PagerDuty licenses for six months for any business that isn’t already on the platform. The company is also committed to #StoptheSpread and is providing financial support to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, the CDC Foundation, and the UN Foundation / WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
  • Fender, the well-known manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers, is currently offering a free 3-month subscription to their Fender Play tuition app to anyone who wants to learn acoustic or electric guitar, bass or ukelele. When the offer first launched, Fender had limited the number of free subscriptions available to just 100,000. The demand has been so high that they upped the quota to 500,000. And now, after reaching the half-million mark, the company has extended this offer to 1,000,000 learners.
  • PluralSight, an education company offering a variety of video and training courses, is offering free access to its Skills platform. And, for individuals that have yet to purchase a Pluralsight subscription, the company is offering free access to its platform for the entire month of April. For businesses and nonprofits, PluralSight is offering extended trials and access to content to help teams skill up. Meaning? Anyone, anywhere can access the company’s entire library of more than 7,000 courses and skill assessments.
  • NCR, an enterprise technology provider of software, hardware and services for banks, retailers, restaurants, small business and telecom organizations, has developed a #KeepCommerceRunning coronavirus resource hub featuring critical tips, helpful resources and insightful ideas to help their customers thrive during the pandemic.
  • GitHub, a software development platform, has made private repositories with unlimited collaborators available to all GitHub accounts. Additionally, all of the core GitHub features are now free for everyone! This means teams can now manage their work together in one place: CI/CD, project management, code review, packages, and more. The company is also reducing the price of its paid Team plan from $9 per user/month to $4 per user/month, effective immediately. Existing customers will have their bills automatically reduced going forward.
  • Caterpillar, a Fortune 100 company designing and developing machinery, engines, financial products and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network, has committed $8.5 million to support global communities, including underserved populations, who are affected by the virus. The investment is being distributed among a number of organizations and funds around the world, including the UN Foundation / WHO Solidarity Response Fund, King Baudouin Foundation Fund for Italy, Global Foodbanking Network Global Fund, Feeding America Response Fund, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund.
  • Resy, a company connecting individuals with restaurants around the world, is not charging any fees to restaurants or consumers. Fees will be forgiven entirely for its restaurants between March 9 and May 9. Additionally, the company is urging consumers to help their favorite restaurants, providing a guide for how each and everyone of us can do just that!
  • Vonage, global business cloud communications company, has released several new solutions for organizations that need to operate in remote environments during the COVID-19 health crisis. Vonage solutions enable telehealth engagements for healthcare professionals and online learning environments for educators, as well as seamless connections with customers, collaboration with colleagues, and the ability to connect contact center agents with customers from any location. Empowering businesses to do all this, and more, Vonage is connecting people from virtually any device, enabling nearly 1 million business users and contact center agents to work from anywhere, globally.
  • Automotive Fights Back: While major automotive manufacturers across the globe have jump-started multiple initiatives to aid and support those immediately impacted by COVID-19, a few efforts include:
    • Toyota is providing payment relief options to customers who are affected by COVID-19. Affected lease and finance customers may be eligible to take advantage of finance contract payment extensions or lease deferred payments. The company is also providing options to assist customers at or near the end of their lease who are impacted by the pandemic.
    • Ford has launched a donation page, urging anyone interested in making a difference to make a donation to support the global fight against COVID-19. To make things even more impactful, The Ford Fund and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford will match $500,000 in donations to community organizations in the fight against COVID-19.
    • Hyundai has reinstated its Assurance Job Loss Protection program, where it will make up to six months of payments for new owners who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 and have purchased or leased their vehicle between March 14 to April 30, 2020, through Hyundai Motor Finance. Additionally, the company is offering a complimentary 3 month extension of Hyundai’s Blue Link® Connected Care service.
    • Fiat Chrysler with the support of holding company Exor and Ferrari, has joined forces with Siare Engineering International Group located near Bologna, Italy to provide additional resources and know-how to help scale up its response to the crisis. For over 45 years, Siare has been a specialist in the design and production of electromedical equipment for export to customers around the globe.
    • GM is working closely with Ventec Life Systems, in cooperation with #StopTheSpread, to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products. The company is also directing $2 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations across the country to address increasing critical needs.


For more insight into the Subscription Economy, how businesses are approaching COVID-19, and Zuora’s impact, please visit and subscribe to Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo’s weekly newsletter: