A New Trend?

We have certainly all heard of wine of the month clubs, monthly memberships have been around forever, but is there a resurgent of this trend?  This past week my sister gifted me a six month membership to Birchbox.  What is Birchbox?  It is a monthly package of beauty samples delivered to my door.  If you like the samples, the full size products are available for purchase on their website, OH and you earn loyalty points for your purchases.  Clever, very clever.

What can’t you get in a box these day?! Need a decorator in a box done!  Want fun and educational activities to do with your children? You need BabbaBoxLost Crates offers several different monthly or quarterly subscriptions including housewares, stationary, food, or even a monthly design surprise.  Or you could get personalized style assistance through Shoe Dazzle.   Amazon also attempts to sign you up for monthly food, coffee, or tea subscriptions when ordering these products.

With so many options I can not help but think this is the new train everyone is jumping on.  Now let’s not forget branding.

I counted at least six logos on my first Birchbox; three of which I encountered before even opening the box!  There were also two different reminders about earning loyalty points by ordering from their website.  It reminds me of that early Quizno’s commercial that talked about advertisers encouraging repetition of branding.

Inside the samples are your average, hotel freebie sample size, even though they are described as a generous sample size on the website.  For my sister’s $10 a month I was truly hoping the “generous samples” would be enough to last me a while, but this is clearly just enough to try a couple of times.  The goal here is to get me to buy the full size products from them quickly, not to stock up my bathroom cabinets with large samples.

On the plus side, I will enjoy receiving a little present in a cute pink box every month.  I will also enjoy playing with the samples from time to time, but I doubt I will actually buy any of these full size products.  My “beauty routine” typically consists of a facial moisturizer with SPF and mascara.  If I am going to splurge in the name of beauty, I would rather spend $10 on an enjoyable manicure then $10 on perfume I won’t wear.

While I am not the target audience for this particular product, I am fascinated with the business model.  A low-cost monthly subscription, tied to full cost products, and loyalty points to encourage you to keep buying from them.  It’s brilliant!  Even Amazon adopted a similar model by selling its new Kindle Fire at a loss in hopes of selling its prime membership, easy access to its larger marketplace, and exclusive online content at a large profit.  I suspect we can expect to see a lot more of these business types in the future.


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