It’s just a small box, but it is disrupting the fashion industry. From cosmetics to clothing companies, monthly subscription boxes empower customers to try products before making a purchase decision. The website My Subscription Addiction lists more than 2,000 box subscriptions in its database. The trend doesn’t surprise Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD group.
Consumers “are very comfortable buying online, with buying unknown commodities, buying products and then let someone else select it for you,” says Cohen.
Pop Sugar and Birchbox are examples of fashion subscription boxes that deliver products and promotions directly to your mailbox every month. Others, such as Daily Look, offer a personalized style service with handpicked clothing items, allowing fashionistas to enjoy a new look every month. Another fashion retailer that hopped on the subscription box wagon is Third Love. The lingerie outfitter offers customers the opportunity to try custom-fit bras for free then purchase them for a price.
While fashion subscription boxes give customers the advantage of trying clothing products for a monthly price, the subscription box trend itself is expanding into new categories to attract other types of customers.
Roxbox is a personalized jewelry subscription box service that lets customers try personalized earrings, necklaces and bracelets before committing to the purchase. In 2010, Birchbox raised a subscriber list of over a million subscribers by offering their box full of beauty samples. “It’s really an industry about discovery,” says Birchbox founder and chief executive officer Katia Beauchamp. “The subscription helps you discover and then be able to purchase in a really easy, efficient and delightful way,” explains Beauchamp. Food companies also provide monthly subscription boxes, but with one key difference from other types: Customers cannot return the food products.
Regardless of category, it is safe to say that monthly subscription boxes are reshaping the way consumers buy. For companies, the allure of subscription boxes lies in a steady source of income. The companies are also lured to the subscription box model because it is a form of “fast fashion” in which customers don’t have to wait for seasons and it allows clothing makers to experiment with trends. For consumers, the boxes not only furnish a new wardrobe every month—and do it without the in-store purchase pressure—but also serve as a personalized style service at a fixed price.
Because fashion is a quick-evolving industry, consumers feel the need to constantly be in style. Small businesses and boutiques have also joined the subscription box trend in order to generate customer awareness about their merchandise. This begs the question of are consumers attracted to the monthly subscription box model because they simply want businesses to choose the products for them, or is it that consumers just want to have it all? Subscription boxes are a unique way to make a customer feel unique with their surprise goodies inside -- but how far has this box trend gone? It is a trend that has gone wild and more companies continue to hop aboard.