Breakage Business Model

Photo of author
Written By Angelo Sorbello

Tech entrepreneur and passionate about business



In the realm of revenue generation, the breakage business model stands as a hidden gem, harnessing the power of unused products and services.

Like a treasure chest waiting to be unlocked, this unique approach capitalizes on consumer behavior, allowing businesses to profit from paid but untapped resources.

From gift cards to loyalty points, this article delves into the strategies, case studies, and key highlights of the breakage business model, unveiling its potential for profitability and effectiveness.

Get ready to discover the secrets behind this lucrative model.

Key Takeaways

  • The breakage business model is a form of revenue generation based on consumers not using purchased products or services.
  • Gift cards are a common example of the breakage business model, as a certain proportion of them are never redeemed.
  • Businesses use various strategies to encourage breakage and increase revenue, such as setting expiration dates, minimum redemption limits, usage restrictions, blocking, and activity requirements.
  • The breakage business model can be found in various industries, including retail, hospitality, travel, and fitness.

Definition of Breakage Business Model

The breakage business model is a revenue generation strategy that capitalizes on the non-utilization of purchased products or services, resulting in financial gain for businesses.

This model has significant implications, particularly in the retail industry. Retailers often rely on gift cards as a prime example of the breakage business model. When customers fail to redeem the full value of their gift cards, retailers retain the unused funds as profit.

In fact, in 2019, Starbucks reported breakage revenue of $140 million, highlighting the substantial financial impact of this model.

Additionally, the breakage business model is not limited to gift cards. It can also be observed in loyalty points, credit card rewards, and prepaid travel credits, among others.

Examples of Breakage in Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs

One example of breakage in gift cards and loyalty programs is the significant amount of unused value that accumulates each year in the US. This unused value represents an opportunity for businesses to monetize services that have been paid for but not utilized.

Here are four key ways that businesses maximize revenue through breakage in gift cards and loyalty programs:

  1. Expiration dates: By setting expiration dates on gift cards and loyalty rewards, businesses incentivize customers to use them within a specified time frame, increasing the likelihood of breakage.
  2. Minimum redemption limits: Requiring a certain number of points or credits to be accumulated before rewards can be redeemed encourages customers to continue engaging with the program, potentially resulting in breakage.
  3. Usage restrictions: Limiting where and when gift cards or rewards can be used can lead to breakage, as customers may not be able to find suitable opportunities to utilize their accumulated value.
  4. Blocking: Requiring customers to use the entire balance of a gift card in one purchase can result in breakage if the full value is not utilized.

Strategies to Encourage Breakage and Increase Revenue

To maximize revenue and profitability, businesses employ various strategies to encourage breakage and increase revenue in gift cards and loyalty programs.

These strategies aim to incentivize customers to leave balances unused or not redeem their rewards fully. One effective strategy is the use of expiration dates, which make gift cards or rewards void after a certain period of time.

Minimum redemption limits require customers to accumulate a certain number of points before they can redeem their rewards, discouraging immediate redemption.

See also  HBO Business Model

Usage restrictions limit where and when gift cards or rewards can be used, creating barriers to full utilization.

Blocking requires customers to use the entire balance of a gift card in one purchase, leaving no residual value.

Lastly, activity requirements void points or rewards if customers haven't used their accounts over a set period, encouraging continuous engagement.

These strategies have proven to be effective in increasing breakage and driving revenue for businesses.

Case Study 1: Online Courses and E-learning Platforms

Online courses and e-learning platforms present an interesting case study within the breakage business model. Here are four key points to consider:

  1. Impact of breakage on consumer behavior:
  • The breakage business model in online courses and e-learning platforms can lead to a decrease in motivation and engagement among users.
  • When consumers have lifetime access to courses, they may delay or never start their learning journey, resulting in unused resources.
  1. Ethical considerations of the breakage business model:
  • From an ethical standpoint, the breakage business model raises concerns about transparency and fairness.
  • Users may feel deceived if they discover that the platform benefits from their lack of engagement.
  • This can potentially harm the trust and reputation of the platform.
  1. Incentives to encourage breakage:
  • Online course platforms use various strategies to encourage breakage.
  • They may send reminder emails initially but reduce them over time, creating a sense of urgency.
  • Limited-time access to bonuses incentivizes early participation, increasing the likelihood of breakage.
  1. Balancing profitability and user experience:
  • While the breakage business model can generate revenue, platforms must carefully balance profitability and user experience.
  • Implementing strategies that overly encourage breakage may result in dissatisfied users and a decline in customer retention.

Case Study 2: Subscription Boxes

Continuing the exploration of the breakage business model, this case study focuses on subscription boxes and their utilization of breakage strategies. Subscription boxes have gained popularity in recent years, offering curated products delivered directly to consumers' doorsteps on a regular basis. These boxes often include a variety of items and credits that can be redeemed in an online store. To encourage breakage, subscription box companies employ pricing strategies and customer engagement tactics. One common approach is to set higher prices for the boxes, making consumers feel like they are getting a better deal when they don't use all the credits included. Additionally, limited choices and credits with expiration dates in the online store further incentivize customers to leave some credits unused. This combination of pricing strategies and customer engagement techniques effectively contributes to the breakage business model in the subscription box industry.

Pricing Strategies Customer Engagement
Higher prices Limited choices
Credits with expiration dates

Case Study 3: Software Licenses

The utilization of breakage strategies in the software licensing industry is examined in this case study. Here are four key aspects to consider:

  1. Multi device licenses: Software companies offer licenses that allow users to install and use their software on multiple devices. However, many users only use the software on a few devices, resulting in unused licenses.
  2. Limited time deals: To encourage users to purchase more licenses, software companies often offer limited-time deals. These deals create a sense of urgency and incentivize users to buy more licenses than they actually need.
  3. Default option: Some software companies make multi-device licenses the default option when purchasing their software. This increases the chances of users buying more licenses than necessary, leading to breakage revenue.
  4. Unused licenses: Similar to other industries utilizing the breakage business model, software companies benefit from revenue generated by unused licenses. These licenses represent profit without providing additional services or products.
See also  Roblox Business Model: Monetizing The Metaverse

Case Study 4: Prepaid Printing Services

Examining the utilization of breakage strategies in the prepaid printing services industry, we observe the implications and customer behavior analysis associated with breakage.

Prepaid printing services allow users to purchase credits for public printing, but they may not fully utilize all the credits. This results in breakage revenue for the service providers.

To encourage breakage, bulk buy discounts and credits with expiration dates are offered. These strategies incentivize customers to purchase more credits than they actually need, increasing the chances of unused credits.

By analyzing customer behavior, service providers can determine the effectiveness of their breakage strategies and make adjustments accordingly.

Understanding breakage implications and customer behavior analysis is crucial for maximizing revenue in the prepaid printing services industry.

Case Study 5: Event Tickets

The utilization of breakage strategies in the event ticket industry involves analyzing customer behavior and its implications for maximizing revenue. Event ticket pricing strategies play a crucial role in encouraging breakage and increasing ticket sales. Here are four key tactics used in the industry:

  1. Variable Pricing: Implementing dynamic pricing based on demand and popularity of events can lead to higher ticket sales and potential breakage when attendees are willing to pay a premium for certain experiences.
  2. Ticket Bundling: Offering ticket bundles that include multiple events or additional perks can incentivize customers to purchase more tickets than they will actually use, resulting in increased revenue and potential breakage.
  3. Non-Transferable Tickets: Requiring tickets to be non-transferable or limiting the ability to resell them can help control the secondary market and reduce the chances of all tickets being utilized, thus increasing the potential for breakage.
  4. Tiered Access: Creating tiers of access or exclusive memberships can encourage customers to purchase tickets at higher price points, leading to increased revenue and the possibility of breakage when customers do not fully utilize their access benefits.

Key Highlights of the Breakage Business Model

The key highlights of the breakage business model include:

  • The generation of revenue from unused products or services, with gift cards being a common example.
  • This model allows retailers to profit without providing the associated products or services.
  • Strategies such as expiration dates, minimum redemption limits, and usage restrictions are used to encourage breakage and increase revenue.
  • Starbucks reported $140 million in breakage revenue in 2019, highlighting the substantial potential of this model.

However, the implications of the breakage business model on consumer behavior should be considered. It may lead to consumers purchasing products or services they never fully utilize, resulting in wasted resources. Moreover, ethical considerations arise when businesses intentionally design their offerings to encourage breakage as a revenue generation strategy.

Connected Business Model Types and Frameworks

As we delve into the realm of connected business model types and frameworks, it is important to explore the various strategies and approaches that organizations employ to generate revenue and leverage the interactions between users. In the era of digital transformation, businesses need to adapt their models to stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs.

See also  The Rise Of Privacy As A Business Model As Weak Link To Dominating Tech Giants

Here are four key types of connected business models:

  1. Platform Business Model: This model focuses on creating value through interactions between users. Platforms leverage network effects, where the value increases as more users join. Examples include social media platforms and app stores.
  2. Blockchain Business Model: Blockchain technology enables trust, transparency, and decentralized transactions. This model incorporates blockchain components such as value propositions, protocol rules, and distribution channels to create unique value for users.
  3. Asymmetric Business Model: In this model, organizations monetize user data and technology. Companies like Google leverage user data and algorithms to provide targeted advertising. Asymmetric business models rely on indirect monetization and have a key customer who pays to sustain the core asset.
  4. Marketplace Business Model: Marketplaces connect buyers and sellers, facilitating transactions and generating revenue through fees. They can operate in various sectors, from B2B to C2C, and involve multiple core players.

These connected business models offer organizations opportunities to create innovative value propositions and drive revenue growth in the digital age.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the Breakage Business Model Generate Revenue From Unused Products or Services?

The breakage business model generates revenue from unused products or services through strategies such as expiration dates, minimum redemption limits, and usage restrictions. This approach has benefits for retailers but may have drawbacks for consumers.

What Are Some Common Strategies That Businesses Use to Encourage Breakage and Increase Revenue?

To encourage breakage and increase revenue, businesses employ strategies such as setting expiration dates, imposing minimum redemption limits, and implementing usage restrictions. These tactics aim to capitalize on unused products or services, resulting in higher profits.

Can You Provide Examples of Other Industries or Businesses That Utilize the Breakage Business Model Besides Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs?

Subscription services and insurance companies also utilize the breakage business model. For subscription services, customers may not utilize all the included credits or services. Insurance companies benefit from premiums paid by policyholders who never make claims.

How Do Online Courses and E-Learning Platforms Utilize the Breakage Business Model?

Online courses and e-learning platforms monetize inactivity and exploit unused resources through the breakage business model. Strategies like limited-time access to bonuses and reminder emails initially, but reduced over time, encourage breakage and increase revenue.

What Are Some Key Highlights or Statistics Related to the Breakage Business Model, Such as Revenue Generated or the Value of Unused Gift Cards in the Us?

In regards to the breakage business model, some key highlights include Starbucks reporting $140 million in breakage revenue in 2019 and billions of dollars in unused gift card value in the US each year.


In conclusion, the breakage business model is a unique approach to generating revenue by capitalizing on unused products or services.

This model, exemplified by gift cards and loyalty programs, relies on consumer behavior to generate profit without delivering the associated goods or services.

By employing strategies such as setting expiration dates and imposing usage restrictions, businesses can encourage breakage and increase their revenue.

Through various case studies and key highlights, it is evident that the breakage business model has the potential for profitability and effectiveness.

Leave a Comment