Discovery Retail: Euromonitor Checks Up on Beauty Subscription Boxes

Following up on her discussion about packages practice and pitfalls discussed at the 2013 HBA Global Expo, Euromonitor International senior analyst Virginia Lee picks up the topic of beauty box subscription services.

In a video on the Euromonitor website, Lee says, “Beauty subscription boxes such as Birchbox and Glossybox have taken off in the U.S., Western Europe and parts of Asia. There are now even beauty boxes for men. It’s incredible that beauty boxes have taken off. If you would’ve asked me 10 years [that] women—and increasingly men—would pay $10-20 a month to get samples delivered to their home, I would have said, ‘No way, that’s a crazy idea.’ But beauty boxes have taken off.

“In fact, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp was a panelist at HBA Global Expo, and she described Birchbox as ‘discovery retail.’ Originally they tested with 200 women and 8 brands, and they were worried about not getting enough brands to participate. Now they have over 400,000 subscribers worldwide who pay $10-20 a month to get beauty samples mailed to their home.

“Asked to speak about what they like and dislike about beauty boxes, [for] the likes, one woman said, ‘I use it to get my fix. It’s helped me spend a little less online.’ Another like, speaking of JulepMaven, a nail polish website, [said, ‘You have the option to skip a month.’ Speaking of’s Sample Society with Allure magazine, [someone said], ‘I like the books with the quick tips.’

“On the negative side, one woman mentioned that she usually doesn’t like at least one item in a box, and she thinks that greater customization would be a help.

“It’s a question of sampling. Sampling has definitely taken off since 9/11 and the restrictions on traveling with liquids, [and] a lot of people have jumped on the sample bandwagon. For some skin care companies, its now offering deluxe samples in a travel set. For other companies, its offering more samples at the department store counter to get the trial and then hopefully a sale later. And for companies like Birchbox and Glossybox, its sending samples every month to get consumers to buy the full-size products, hopefully,” Lee concludes.

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