Monday, February 20, 2012

Beauty by Mail

Time took a look at the new trend toward "makeup-of-the-month" clubs that have popped up online. These businesses edit collections of cosmetics samples and deliver them to your mailbox for a small monthly fee (usually $10-12), with the hope that you'll like some of what you find and become a loyal customer of that beauty brand.

These clubs are matchmakers, serving as go-between for consumers seeking novelty (new products) and beauty businesses seeking new customers. For consumers who like trying new things, subscribing to a sampler box is a more cost-effective way to acquire trial sizes than walking through malls or department stores. For the beauty brands, subscribers represent consumers who are open to new products, actively involved in beauty behavior, and (often) enthusiastic about sharing their ideas with others. Hearing your friend praise a new product on the basis of experience can be a powerful influence on your attitude and action toward that brand and product!

Because this industry is young and growing so rapidly, some of the businesses will inevitably morph into other businesses or leave the industry as competition intensifies. Meantime, here's a trio of beauty-by-mail sampling businesses as of February, 2012:
  • Birchbox, which sends upscale cosmetics samples to 100,000+ U.S. customers, features brands such as Carol's Daughter, Kiehl's, Stila, and LaRocca. Founded by two Harvard Business School grads, Birchbox is growing very rapidly, with more than 80,000 Facebook "likes" plus an active Twitter account, a behind-the-scenes blog, and a beauty tips magazine online.
  • Glossybox says it specializes in "the latest beauty trends and cosmetics delivered to you in a beauty box." The company encourages refer-a-friend by offering reward points and offers tips and promotions via Twitter.
  • Beauty Army (shown here) offers deluxe makeup samples and supports Beauty Bus, a nonprofit that brings beauty how-to to chronically ill people and their care-givers.

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