Lifetime pricing in theme clubs has long been derided as "unsustainable" ever since WooThemes announced they were removing the option in favor of more limiting, recurring plans.
However, from what I've heard, average theme club attrition rates hover between two and three years. Therefore, as a theme shop owner, you can price your "lifetime" price at somewhere between 2-3x whatever your annual price is, and not really be losing out.
Obviously, this can vary for you and there's no way to know what your attrition rate will be for sure without actually being in business for a sufficient amount of time.
It also wouldn't really make sense for something like hosting (anyone remember NodeKi?) which requires ongoing, fixed resources. After an initial "learning" phase, it's reasonable to assume theme/plugin customers will require decreasing amounts of support as time goes on.
The only difference is you're getting that 2-3x annual price upfront from your customer, instead of spread out over 2-3 years until they cancel (on average). And a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.
Since the WooThemes controversy, many theme shops have continued or introduced their own lifetime pricing options for clubs anyway, presumably due to this line of thinking. Elegant Themes, Array Themes, ThemeLab, just to name a few.
StudioPress is one of the few to backtrack on this after offering a lifetime package for many years, recently introducing an annual renewal fee (after an initial, larger one-time charge) for continued access to the Pro Plus package. This was after ample warning, and grandfathering in all existing lifetime customers.
Anyway, I've been noticing more and more people express what I'll dub "subscription resentment." This was expressed in @sccr410's recent thread about convincing users to pay for subscriptions.
Instead of forcing a subscription on them, why not give them what they want? An option to pay a one-time fee to "invest" in access to existing and future products without the lingering pressure to "get their money's worth" ...even over annual subscription periods?
Combined with strategies like scarcity (i.e. "only 3 lifetime packages available at this price point!"), it can be a powerful way to increase revenue from customers who may not have otherwise been willing to pay anything due to aforementioned "subscription resentment."
As a customer, which would you prefer when paying for a theme club (all existing and future products included)?
- I'd rather pay between 2-3x the annual price once.
- I'd rather pay an annual recurring price. I'm skeptical of "lifetime" pricing and would like the opportunity to cancel before making too much of a financial commitment.
- I just wouldn't ever pay money for themes. I make my own or use free ones.