Birchbox began by offering boxes of sample-sized cosmetics so women can try new blush, eye makeup, skin cream, and so on.
Samples are provided by the manufacturers, and subscriptions are reasonably priced to encourage people to remain customers for many months. Birchbox now offers monthly boxes of samples for women and men, curated with a theme and personalized to fit subscribers' needs.
Many consumers like the idea of trying new products with minimal financial risk. Variety-seekers are another targeted segment. Like something? Order from Birchbox or buy locally--ideally, from one of the new Birchbox retail stores. UPDATE: Birchbox is scaling back its expansion amid competitive pressures.
Meal ingredients by mail are another focus of marketing attention, with firms like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh targeting Millennials and others who want to pull ingredients out of a box, pick up the supplied recipe, and have a home-cooked meal that's tasty and elegant. Ingredients are premeasured so there's no waste, which enhances the value.
Today, subscription-based curated boxes are available in a wide variety of categories, from international snack foods and men's clothing to travel items and fly-fishing items.
What's the product life cycle of subscription boxes? Hard to say, although it's probably much shorter than the life cycle of catalog marketing (more than a century old and still viable).