Online subscriptions services are all the rage, and nearly everyone in our office subscribes to at least one. The range of things we get is pretty astounding—everything from food to clothes, beauty products, and toys. Whether you subscribe to save time or just enjoy sampling new products, it's hard to deny the appeal of a box of goodies in your mailbox.
This type of product delivery isn't just a trend, though. It reflects larger changes going on in the economy. Consumers have never had more options, or more power when it comes to the material goods in their lives. It's also the total opposite of the kind economic changes that happened in the '90s, when giant box stores and status brands really reached their peak.
Today, having the same things everyone else has is no longer desirable (and neither is spending all of your free time at the mall). More and more people care about how they things they use were produced, and are choosing to use their purchases to effect social change.
If you're a marketer, you've probably realized that appealing to everyone isn't the goal anymore; appealing to the people who want what you sell is, and finding a niche is the key to success. The fact that this aligns perfectly with inbound marketing is just the icing on the gluten-free, locally-produced vegan cake.
Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox may have brought subscription boxes into the mainstream, but the floodgates have opened. Here are a few of our favorites, and a few that we can't wait to try.
This is one of those offerings that you don’t realize you need until you have it. These guys offer inexpensive razor blade cartridges via a monthly subscription service. Their marketing campaigns are aimed squarely at 20-30 something male buyers and sport lots of humor and “fight the man” rebelliousness. It’s no wonder they’ve been so successful. It doesn’t hurt that their offering is actually pretty good, too, since buying cartridges at the store really is expensive and annoying.
This is more of a niche service, aimed at the men in their late 20s to early 40s if I'm interpreting their advertising and pricing correctly. The concept behind Trunk Club is to offer busy but style-conscious guys a way to stay fashionable without having to spend time shopping. Customers get assigned a personal “shopper” who makes selections for them and puts together a trunk of clothing for them to try on. They can return whatever they don’t like free of charge. This service is definitely designed for upwardly-mobile men who are willing to pay a premium for convenience.
Targeted at environmentally and socially conscious women, Goodebox offers natural and sustainable beauty and skin care products from small, independent brands. They cater to those who really care what goes into their beauty products and how those products are tested, manufactured, and packaged. They use an in-depth survey process to zero in on what their customers are looking for and what is important to them, both in terms of ethics and their beauty needs. Goodebox even asks you about what scents you prefer in your products, so don't worry about everything smelling like patchouli!
A subscription service for snacking! Genius! Graze offers natural, nutritionally-balanced small snacks on a subscription basis. Their marketing focuses on convenience, customizability, and health-consciousness. This is a great service for those looking to change their snacking habits, and they'll deliver healthy snacks right to your workplace if you want to prevent those afternoon conference room bagel binges.
This is a service by geeks, for geeks. Each of their "mystery boxes full of themed nerd gear" is a collection of shirts, toys and various knick-knacks, all targeted at the nerd subculture. This is marketing genius, because we geeks are hyper-conscious about how geek-chic we appear to our nerdy peers. And nothing increases your geek cred better than a bizarre collection of comic book and sci-fi miniatures on your desk. Choose from Arcade, Horror, Classic ("Comic Con in a box"), and boys and girls boxes for kids ages 6-11.
While the VIEO staff may be sticking to relatively common subscriptions, there truly is something for everyone in subscription-box-land. Love Scandinavian design? Try Skandicrush. Don't have time for a vacation but want to feel like you went on a weekend getaway? Try Hammock Pack. Take your sock wardrobe very seriously? Well, there are at least a dozen companies catering to your secret shame.
To quote Mallrats, the cult classic of '90s consumer culture, "I love the smell of commerce in the morning!" And today, it smells like freshly-roasted coffees from around the world, delivered to your door.
Who is your niche market? Build a buyer persona to find out.