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Curls in a Box: The Boom of Sampling Programs for Textured Hair

By: Michelle Breyer
Posted: July 22, 2014

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“A product that works for my curls may not work the same way on another person,” says Heather Cummings. “Hence the need to sample and try different products until you find the one that works. Once you do, this product becomes a part of your hair regimen.” Like Birchbox, CurlKit offers an e-commerce site where subscribers can purchase full-size products featured in the CurlKit subscription boxes.

And while some of boxes are focused on hair texture, others are focused on the black beauty consumer. “We were looking to create a destination to help manage black beauty that was more user friendly,” says Delali Kpodzo of two-year-old We Are Onyx. “I think our hair has such specific needs. Beauty boxes have been able to cherry pick the brands and products that work with different types of products.”

Questions and Opportunities

While brands have embraced what sampling subscription box services have to offer, some worry that with all the sampling, many consumers may no longer purchase products, especially since many of the boxes offer full-size products rather than sample sizes.

One brand manager, whose company has sampled with a number of subscription boxes, says he’s not sure how many of these sampling box customers turn into new customers. While it might be a valuable service up front, he worries that it won’t have a long-term impact on the brand because many consumers will move on to the brand offered in their next box. He also worries that the attrition rate is high. “I think we have a box bubble in this space right now,” he says

However, many brands have recruited loyal, valuable consumers via subscription boxes. It is up to each beauty brand to figure out the sampling and marketing strategy that works best for its business.

Michelle Breyer is president and co-founder of TextureMedia, one of the world’s largest social media hair care platforms. It works to empower, engage and educate its multicultural community of female influencers. Based in Austin, Texas, TextureMedia has an audience of more than 30 million unique visitors a year to its NaturallyCurly, CurlyNikki, CurlMart and CurlStylist websites.