5 brands reaching their niche with curated subscription boxes
Curated box subscriptions are almost always a business model unto themselves. Flag ship curated box brands like BirchBox and CrateJoy offer this subscription model as their core product, but there's still an opportunity for stores to offer up curated boxes as an additional service to generate recurring revenue.
When you’re offering this experience, you have to carefully pick and source items that will appeal to an audience with specific interests, lifestyles, or values.
While some of these items may be available elsewhere, it’s the act of bringing them together for a unique experience that attracts subscribers. These businesses might expand to an online store where subscribers can buy the items featured in the box as one-off purchases.
This article is an installment in our 7 Subscription Models To Master series. If you want the complete guide, check out the ebook! If not, the articles listed below are full of great information to help you get started.
- Introduction: How to pick the right subscription model for you business
- Recurring replenishment models
- Curation models
- Model 4: Curated boxes (this article)
- Model 5: Monthly clubs
- Access models
- Other businesses could offer a curated box in addition to their core product or other subscriptions. The curated box model can also adopt elements from the other six subscription types, especially convertible, monthly clubs, or exclusive.
- It gives you the potential to negotiate with suppliers on committed inventory quantities.
- You can potentially make money from suppliers for the promotional value your box provides.
- It streamlines revenue and inventory forecasting by offering a single product while giving you complete control over the contents and costs.
Things to look out for
- Your customers may still want some customization: the surprise factor is key, but customers may still want some say in their box. Try giving them choices or personalizing the onboarding flow with a questionnaire.
- The competition: A lot of brands are offering curated boxes, that means standing out from the crowd is key. Do this by supporting a cause, providing exclusive content, partnering with an influencer, or anything else that makes you a little different.
- Picking a niche that's too specific: You’ve got to be able to source products on a recurring basis. The narrower the theme, the faster you might run out of things to send.
You can get more tips on what to look out for and how to avoid these pitfalls in our free ebook.
Here are a few examples of businesses reaching their niches with curated subscription boxes. Some have a the curated box at the center of their business, other have it as an additional offering — and revenue stream!
Sign up for Niyama Sol’s ‘Sol Box’ and you’ll be shipped the brand’s signature leggings, a workout top, and some other goodies to indulge in self-care. This is a great example of one brand creating a multi-brand experience with a curated box.
Key takeaway 1: They also have a standard webstore so subscribers can buy some of the products they liked from the box a la carte afterward.
Key takeaway 2: The additional lifestyle products they offer up come from strategic partners. That means they might get paid to include those products because of the promotional value their box carries. It also helps Niyama Sol gain exposure to new people in their target audience when those brands promote that their product is in Niyama Sol's box.
The Maple Box
Maple magazine created their own lifestyle subscription, The Maple Box, that's loaded with organic lifestyle products from Canadian brands. Their site shares the love by highlighting real-life social testimonials and photos of subscribers enamored with their quarterly shipment.
Key takeaway 1: Leverage peer recommendations. Maple Box shares happy customers' social media posts to show potential subscribers how awesome their box is, after all, peer recommendations are the most trusted form of advertising.
Key takeaway 2: This box is offered up as an ancillary product to their main offering — a magazine, but it's obvious how they can complement each other by including products they covered in that quarter's issues. Maple might even get paid by those brands for that promotion.
Whisky Loot provides a stunning unboxing experience with special packaging designed to hold (and protect) their custom glass bottles of whisky. They also include tasting notes to make each sip more meaningful and encourage subscribers to provide feedback through social media. This creates a rich whiskey tasting experience subscribers can look forward to every month.
Key takeaway 1: A delightful, aesthetically pleasing unboxing experience can really set you apart and keep your subscribers looking forward to their monthly delivery.
Key takeaway 2: With the sipping notes, Whisky Loot helps subscribers really appreciate the product, providing a whole experience instead of just a product.
NurseLuxe helps frontline workers treat themselves. They offer up a curated selection of items nurses can use on and off duty so they can stay "professional and gorgeous."
Key takeaway 1: Find a niche that's easy to source products for. NurseLuxe did a good job picking an audience that's very specific but has nearly endless possibilities: from coffee to soap to apparel to books, anyone with a decent imagination can come up with a fun monthly theme.
Key takeaway 2: They show off previous boxes so people know what they're in for. While the surprise is part of the fun, subscribers want to know they're getting bang for their buck. If they don't think they're getting value that's proportional to the cost, they probably won't subscribe.
Providing a “month-long checkup for the soul”, MoonBox offers three different styles of curated subscriptions, scaling from a lunar calendar and curated crystals all the way to the full MoonBox experience — which is semi-curated. They select part of the box and let subscribers choose the rest, and also offer bonus items for a nominal cost.
Key takeaway: Giving subscribers some say in their box, including tiered choices, and the ability to add on extra products (for an extra cost) helps your customers get a better experience while also helping you make more revenue.
Become a curation sensation
Hopefully, this inspired you to start planning your own curated box. But remember, you can select elements from the seven subscription models to create your own unique offering that attracts and retains subscribers.
Get more information from in our free ebook below. It's got over 70 pages of tips, inspiration, and real-life examples to get you going.
Subscriptions are growing fast and there's potential for them in almost any industry. Whether you're launching a new subscription brand or adding recurring orders to an existing business, it's definitely something worth exploring.
What's your curation subscription idea? Let us know in the comments below!