BreakingModern — There are few things I can remember as a child that were more exciting than receiving a package in the mail. There were occasional letters from an aunt or a friend from summer camp which were also precious, but a package was a whole other level of awesome.
As an adult in a digital age, very little of my correspondence is received in my literal mailbox — even my bills are far more likely to arrive by email — so a package is still cause for delight. Almost always the package is something I ordered for myself, though, so it lacks the element of surprise. Luckily, there’s a solution for the discerning adult seeking a bit of surprise in their package delivery. Enter the subscription box.
In a nutshell, a subscription box is exactly what it sounds like — you purchase a subscription and receive a box of products on a regular basis, often monthly. There are subscriptions for a wide variety of tastes and interests and now that we’re a few years into the trend, there are literally thousands of subscriptions to choose from.
Looking for a monthly delivery of comics, makeup, books or food? There are dozens of subscription options for each of those interests. There are also far more eccentric and specialized boxes out there. Kiwi Crate will send you a monthly box with creative materials for your child. RawSpiceBar will send you a monthly selection of spices curated by top chefs. Good Mouth will send you a monthly toothbrush with the added benefit of donating a toothbrush to charity for each brush purchased. There’s also the BroBox “awesomely crafted to meet every man’s needs.”
The trick to finding and keeping subscribers is not only in finding a niche market you can fill, but also keeping things fresh and exciting each month. Lootcrate is one of the most popular subscription boxes for “mystery geeks and gamers” and I think the key to their success is a combination of great products and a comprehensive marketing plan. Each month they send a teaser email with the theme of the upcoming month’s box, prompting wild speculation about what might be included. They also include Lootcrate exclusive products in almost every box, providing a reason for subscribers to remain loyal to Lootcrate and not go out and purchase items individually.
There are some counterintuitive business models out there too. Who would think that people would pay $10 a month for a box of beauty product samples that are available free from the manufacturers? Birchbox began shipping in September of 2010 and now boasts more than 800,000 subscribers and has shipped more than nine million boxes worldwide.
The cleverness of this model is not only in shipping an assortment of customized sample products to consumers, but they also offer full size version of all sample products on their website, often at a significant discount. By simplifying the process of trying products and adding another layer of simplification by offering the products right on their website, Birchbox makes it infinitely easier to find and purchase beauty products.
Subscriptions boxes are so hugely popular it begs the question: Are we simply curating our lives away? As a kid, my parents would carefully select the item they wanted to purchase after searching a few different stores to find the best deal on the just right item. Ten years ago, you could do the same sort of searching and evaluating using the Internet, but you were still the one making the selection. Now, we’re willing to spend a bit more to give away the responsibility of considering and selecting items to let someone else curate our purchases for us.
I’m still not a subscriber to any of the thousands of services out there, though I’m finding myself increasingly tempted. Cairn, for example, offers a monthly box of highly customized outdoor discovery items. I can profess my favorite outdoor activities and they will curate a box of products especially for me. I’m still on the fence, but Christmas is coming…
For BMod, I’m Becket Morgan.
All Screenshots: BMod Staff