Beauty boxes: what it is and how it works
After a downward trend in the category, some brands are getting it right, and things are looking up.
When Birchbox launched the first beauty subscription box in 2010, it changed the game. Twelve years ago, the idea of receiving a curated selection of beauty products every month was completely novel. Instead of spending hours browsing beauty retailers’ shelves, beauty boxes allowed customers to discover and test products from home.
So, beauty box subscriptions have been around for some time, but they are increasing in popularity. For the uninitiated, the concept is this: customers pay a subscription fee and receive a curated box of cosmetics and skincare products (usually monthly). For beauty lovers this is an appealing way to discover new brands and stay ahead of trends, with the joy of that “Christmas morning feeling” unwrapping a known and loved product.
Women from all over the world love tearing into a pretty package filled with makeup, skincare, and the occasional wildcard food or drink item. Even if they aren’t always completely in love with all of the contents of a box, the actual process of receiving it in the mail, opening it, and being surprised by its contents is enough to get them to fork over the monthly subscription fee.
There are two main types of beauty boxes. The first is a convenient and often cheaper way to get regular deliveries of essential items which you usually replenish on a monthly basis, such beauty and body care products from your favourite brands.
The other reason we sign up for beauty boxes is to treat ourselves or a friend to a beautifully wrapped selection of bespoke, hand-picked products. As well as receiving a regular supply of rare products that you love, getting beauty boxes adds spice and adventure to your online shopping sprees as you discover new product.
You get a themed selection of goodies put together just for you, plus a surprise item or two. Your box could contain anything from a selection of make-up or natural beauty care products infused with essential oils – unique products that you simply won’t find on supermarket shelves.
You subscribe to have an assortment of products boxed up and sent to you on a regular basis. Most boxes are sent out every month for as long as your subscription lasts, which is usually anywhere between three and 12 months. Of course you can order one box at a time if you like, which is wise for your first order so you can try out the products before committing to a longer subscription.
The gimmicks that make beauty boxes attractive are that you can personalise your box and get surprise items with each delivery. The combined cost of the items is often cheaper than buying them individually and you usually get discounts for longer subscriptions. Free delivery is usually part of the subscription service, if you are using a service in your country.
Beauty brands are often able to include deluxe beauty samples which give their customers a small idea of what the product will do. The upsell and cross sell opportunities compound in the beauty industry and are able to ebb and flow with the changing needs of consumers.
Some brands may offer sample products within their first box or a holiday box—perhaps even something like an addition of “five deluxe beauty samples when you sign up today.” In doing so, customers may opt in to the full size versions when the time is right.
Customers have proven time and again that they want to be in control of their recurring purchases. Keeping them involved by offering them flexible options allows for them to remain engaged with your brand and keep you top of mind.
Providing customers with options to skip a shipment or swap out for different products prevents them from becoming bored of their product offerings or running into issues when it comes to an over abundance of beauty products. And finally, lowering the walls for them to cancel counterintuitively creates loyal fans. Though they may cancel, by creating a pleasant experience throughout their journey, they’re more likely to return or recommend your beauty products.
Customers want to believe a brand they subscribe to has a higher purpose they’re contributing to.
With many beauty boxes offering the same perks, brands are starting to focus on hyper-specific niches to stand out in the market.
Beauty collaborations always create hype, and subscription brands have tested this approach to attract new customers.
It’s always fascinating to learn about beauty products from other countries. And thankfully, beauty boxes have made international products more accessible.