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What are Recurring Revenue Business Models?

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Companies that adopt a recurring revenue business model generate their income from repeated transactions at regular intervals. These are typically through ongoing subscription-based services.

Digital transformation has paved the way for the growth of recurring revenue business models. Unlike traditional models that rely on one-time purchases, this approach focuses on generating consistent revenue through ongoing subscription services. Companies adopting a recurring revenue model must pay attention to key metrics like annual recurring revenue (ARR) and monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Examples of Recurring Revenue Business Models

Companies looking to generate stable, long-term income must understand the recurring revenue business models landscape. Below are some of the most common recurring revenue business models that exist today:


  1. Subscriptions: In a subscription-based model, customers commit to paying a regular fee to gain access to a product or service for a specified time. This model is incredibly common throughout multiple industries.

    These range from software services like Microsoft Office 365 to entertainment platforms like Netflix to hardware that became part of a servitization model. The main benefit is predictability—both companies and customers can forecast costs and revenues more accurately.

  1. Usage-based Business Model: Unlike fixed subscriptions, usage-based models charge customers based on the amount of service they actually consume. This is common in industries like telecommunications and cloud computing.

    Cloud providers, for example, charge for the precise amount of storage space and processing power that customers use or pricing as a pay-per-use API model. This gives them more control over their expenses.

  1. Tiered Pricing: With tiered pricing, companies offer different levels of products or services at multiple price points to cater to a broader audience. This is especially prevalent in the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector.

    In this industry, businesses provide varying plans equipped with different features, benefits, and pricing structures. By doing so, companies can meet a wide range of customers’ needs.

The Benefits of the Recurring Revenue Model

There are several main benefits that companies gain by adopting a recurring revenue model:


  1. Higher Customer Retention & Upselling: Engaging with customers on a consistent, ongoing basis boosts retention. Regular interactions provide opportunities for companies to gain feedback, upsell, and nurture customer relationships.


  1. Easier to Manage Customer Churn: Providing an enhanced customer experience and monitoring vital metrics allow companies to identify potential churn or future churn. Therefore, businesses can act proactively, managing and reducing customer loss.


  1. Building Customer Loyalty: Adopting the recurring revenue model creates a more extended relationship with the customer. By continuously interacting with customers and consistently delivering value, companies can build loyalty. This will then ensure a more stable and predictable revenue stream moving forward.


The recurring revenue business model is a cornerstone of modern businesses, particularly in the digital realm. With various applications such as subscriptions, usage-based billing, and tiered pricing, it allows for a flexible and customer-centric approach. The benefits, including higher retention rates, easier churn management, and the cultivation of customer loyalty, make this model a strategic choice for sustainable growth and stability in today’s dynamic market landscape.

Updated on 16. February 2024

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