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Getting the Most from Your Sampling Subscription Partnership

By: Toni V. Martin
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Other factors, such as the time of year (for summer and winter, skin care does well) and whether a product delivers immediate trial payoff (color cosmetics vs. anti-aging products) should be taken into consideration for when your product is sampled.

Step Outside the Box

Beyond delivering products to your ideal consumers, many subscription boxes offer additional branded experiences. The requisite mix of social media promos, solo e-mail blasts and product giveaways should come standard with your partnership. If you’re looking for more experiential interaction, which will allow you to directly touch the box’s consumers and press contacts, consider partnering on special events and limited-edition box opportunities that could generate premium media placement that lives on beyond your featured month.

“Events were massively successful for us,” says Sesay, who has partnered with curlBOX to do events for members. “We were able to put our New York flagship salon on the map in the natural hair community and foster a lot of new relationships with social media influencers and beauty editors.”

Glossybox’s Glossy Get Togethers are a draw for highly vocal beauty lovers, and its coveted limited edition and bespoke boxes often end up in the hands of top style and beauty influencers, editors and entertainers.

Of course, don’t neglect to do your own promotion of your partnership as well. From press releases to giveaways of box memberships to sneak peeks of your featured product on social media, get creative with promoting the exclusive partnership with your chosen subscription box.

Measure Your Momentum

Although it may not be realistic to see a direct ROI from your sampling program in sales, you can still reap useful insight for your own market research. Make sure to use tracking data points, such as a special coupon code tied to the box and the month, to measure purchase conversion. If the subscription box offers an e-commerce aspect to its program (like Birchbox), it should be able to provide you with a full sales analysis.

Most importantly, avail yourself of the market research potential of a targeted group of potential customers that subscription boxes offer. Many boxes conduct post-sample polls, which may be customized to meet your evaluation criteria without the hefty price tag of a professional market research survey. In your analysis, measure not just sales, but the overall impact sampling has on your brand.

“Look at the awareness and level of engagement,” says Huggins. “We represent brands much like a music rep will ‘break’ an artist. As their beauty partner, we’re there to service them and help them along the way.”

Navigating the abundance of subscription box choices for your beauty brand need not be challenging with the right expectations and partner. Rather than a new commerce model, subscription boxes are simply another marketing channel with the timeless aim of driving awareness of your brand in the mind of your ideal consumer. “If you find the right box,” says Arnett, “you’re getting your product in the right hands.”

Toni V. Martin is a consultant to beauty brands and the director of The International Association of Beauty Brands (IABB), a trade organization that provides sales, marketing, public relations and branding education and training to hair, body, skin care and color cosmetics companies. Her editorial contributions have appeared in magazines such as Allure and Spa, and she is a frequent speaker on brand building in the beauty industry. toni@theiabb.com; www.theiabb.com