Nearly five years ago a concept launched into the UK that would change the face
of beauty forever. The Glossybox subscription service was heralded as
the most innovative idea in years, delivering thousands of monthly
teasers and samples to women across the country – all with the aim of
encouraging discovery and injecting passion back into beauty. Women
signed up in their droves and the copycats soon followed, inevitably
leaving disappointment to set in as the boxes soon began to lose their
sparkle; all of a sudden the phrase ‘beauty box’ had negative connotations. Over the last twelve months the industry has definitely tried to push boundaries while bringing it all back to basics: their focus has been on creating
amazing collaborations, innovative content and providing a platform for
women to discover fabulous products and brands that they may never know
about otherwise. With the likes of Glossybox, Birchbox, My Little Box and Latest In Beauty (amongst others) to choose from, we’ve never been more spoiled for variety – but how can these services continue to offer value, excitement and anticipation on a monthly basis? Well I asked, and you told me.
Thanks to the genius of the new Twitter survey feature, I was able to ask my followers what they’d like to see from beauty boxes in 2016. Did they want cooler collaborations that really offered something new, or simply fresher brands and products to increase the sense of discovery once more? Did they want better value and offers that would enable them to purchase their favourites from the box, or fewer repeated brands that don’t really add much value after you’ve tried them five different times? Nearly 300 people answered and shared their views, with the results swinging many different ways before finally settling on an overall winner – the results of which are below.
It seems that the need for fresher products and fewer repeat brands is strong (this is the one consistent complaint I see whenever I post preview pictures or discuss beauty boxes,) but not quite as strong as the desire for cooler collaborations. In the last twelve months Glossybox has partnered with American designer Jamie Lee Reardin and uber brand Nars, while Birchbox has collaborated with Skinny Dip and French Sole to bring their subscribers something new. My Little Box continues to innovate and create themed boxes that outstrip others in terms of the cute factor (in 2015 alone we had the Fashion box, Road Trip box, Energy box, Magic box and my personal favourite – the Super box,) while Latest In Beauty keep knocking it out of the park with their Glamour magazine collaborations which always burst at the seams with desirable goodies. These collaborations and themes definitely help to generate excitement when the box is opened every month, as well as providing an overarching ‘hook’ on which to base the contents – but alone that’s not enough to keep you coming back for more.
Overwhelmingly you want to see better value and offers from your favourite subscription services over the next twelve months, including higher end products, bigger sizes and an increase in the number of treats inside – rather unsurprising, but can the likes of Glossybox and Birchbox deliver? Beauty box subscriptions were first established to provide a sample of
something great, aimed at aiding discovery of brands and products that
you wouldn’t normally know about. It was never meant to be a huge goodie
bag of premium greatness landing on your doorstep, but rather providing
a trialling opportunity in order to decide whether or not to invest in
the full size product. With so many beauty launches happening every
single month, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees – beauty boxes
provided a way of discovering new things without a hefty price tag.
However, over time a lot of
unrealistic expectations have arisen that cause beauty boxes and subscription
services to get a bad name. It seems that we now expect more and more on a monthly basis, and brands are struggling to keep up with our demands. It’s worth
remembering that everything included in a box costs money to make (even a sachet of product meant for only a singular application,) and that it can take months to negotiate a new addition.
Although I think it’s probably a little unrealistic to expect more product on a monthly basis, where I do think there’s a huge opportunity is providing unique offers, discounts and competitions to recipients. Many of the services do currently offer a small discount off a full sized version of the product that’s included in your box, but it’s easy to forget if it’s not constantly promoted. Similarly, it’s easy to overlook a 10% discount when there are tonnes of other online retailers slashing the price of their beauty products and emailing out special offers on a regular basis. I would personally love Glossybox, Birchbox, My Little Box and Latest In Beauty provide a cracking offer every month that their subscribers would really get behind; a half price lipstick, free gift with purchase, discount code or ‘send to a friend’ feature would just elevate their offering a little more. The focus needs to be on more than just a one-off sample that can be passed over or forgotten about, rather creating a real piece of added value that will evolve beauty boxes from a frustrating monthly annoyance, to a moment of pure exhilaration when it lands on your doorstep.
The next twelve months will no doubt be a tricky period for the UK based beauty services. With constant frustration expressed by consumers, it’s somewhat of a challenge to turn things around and ensure conversation is overwhelmingly positive. I definitely feel like the latter part of 2015 provided a sign of things to come this year (creative collaborations, exciting product launches and added value amongst guest editors and beautiful boxes,) but it will be fascinating to watch how they evolve and turn the phrase ‘beauty box’ into something that’s associated with indulgence and desire – rather than a waste of money.
What would you like to see from beauty boxes and subscription services in 2016?
Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.