One of the early subscription services that took off and became very popular very quickly is the box of the month. Early entrants include Dollar Shave Club, BirchBox, Loot Crate, BarkBox, Quarterly, and others. These services can be put into three broad categories: Replenishment, Sampling, and Curation.
The replenishment model is based on convenience: it serves to make sure the recipient is always stocked with whatever necessity the box provides, and consistency of the product and its delivery is what consumers expect. Sample boxes, by definition, provide sample sizes of things such as health and beauty products. Having tried the sample, consumer frequently then have an opportunity to purchase a full-sized version of any product they especially liked.
Curated boxes provide a carefully chosen selection of products based on the box’s theme. Products are expected to both fit the theme and ideally add some element of surprise. The products are ones with which the subscriber might not otherwise be familiar or perhaps would never have purchased on their own. But this is the allure of the model: it provides items the subscription business thinks their subscribers will enjoy along with the chance to discover new products or services.
ArtMail is one such offering, newly launched. According to their website, ArtMail “searches the world for the best international artists to bring them straight to your door. Our curators hand-pick art to suit your style preferences while you sit back and relax.”
Subscription Insider’s take on this subscription sums it up well: “This is another great example of how the subscription model has made it possible for a founder to bring an innovative product or service to market. Art lovers … have the opportunity to discover and own pieces of art from artists they might not otherwise have access to [and] the artists get additional exposure and commission for their work….”
Not just art—science too is now being offered by subscription. A new subscription box from Amazon, called STEM Club, which for $19.99 a month, sends a child a new toy tied to science, technology, engineering, or math. GE has also launched a own science box, called Labracadabra, which offers “a family of mind-expanding science sets which start at the allowance-friendly price of $29.99.”
Clearly, just about any theme can be turned into a “box” and offered via subscription. From jewelry to handmade tea, greeting cards, art supplies, candy, socks… the list is endless. Even celebrities are taking part. Take Quarterly’s “Lifestyle” box, for example, which is defined not by its contents but by who its curators are—“renowned tastemakers, such as Pharrell Williams, Nina Garcia, Jeremy Lin and Bianca Jade.”
In this same vein is a new subscription service called Experience Vinyl, launching in April whose initial slate of artist-curators include Elton John, George Clinton, and Quincy Jones. Subscribers receive one of the artist's favorite albums (not one of their own) along with personalized commentary, the artist's top ten album list, and various other rewards. A portion of the sales will go to the artist’s charity of choice.
The possibilities for curated boxes are indeed endless. All you need is some imagination—and a subscription management platform to get you started.