What: Birchbox is the OG of beauty subscription boxes. While it’s up for debate about whether Birchbox pioneered the beauty subscription model, their name is ubiquitous enough that start-up guys say it’s “Birchbox for _____” when pitching other subscription models to Venture Capitalists.
Differentiation Points (in their own words): Co-founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna told us: “Birchbox is a discovery retail platform. We are redefining the retail process by offering consumers a personalized way to discover, learn about, and purchase the best beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products. Before Birchbox, there was no easy way to discover new brands and purchase products with confidence online.”
Products/Perks: A little bit of everything. You’ll find high-end beauty brands (like Kerastase), middle market (like Stila), and emerging niche brands. Previous boxes have also included non-beauty items like hair ties (TwistBands), earbuds, granola bars, and stationery. Depending upon the beauty profile you fill out as a subscriber, Birchbox puts together somewhere between 30 to 50 different types of their boxes each month, prompting some people to subscribe to more than one box! They also do themed boxes, such as their previous partnerships with Gossip Girl, Glamour, and most recently, GOOP. They even have a men’s box and are launching a home box. Birchbox also has a strong editorial component–a blog, video how-tos, and trend pieces are all updated regularly. You also earn points that you can use for buying full size products directly from the site.
Subscriber base: As of January 2012 (their last announced subscriber base), it was 100,000. They have since surpassed that number.
Brand Success Stories: “When Color Club first started working with us in March 2012, 94% of the people we sampled to were new customers. Now we are one of their biggest online retailers,” the Birchbox ladies told us. “We are very data driven and follow up all campaigns with reports detailing brand exposure as well as sales results in our e-commerce shop.”
Future Plans: Earlier this year, Birchbox acquired JolieBox, a European competitor. We asked them what this meant: “By acquiring JolieBox, we are now able to work with our international brand partners on global marketing initiatives. Simply put, it means we’ll be introducing even more top brands from around the world to our subscribers.”
Cost: $10/month or $110 for a full year; $20/month for a men’s subscription