The Subscription Sampling Box Boom

Mar 31, 2014 5:21:38 PM

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We all love to try something before we buy them. I’m a sucker for grocery stores that sample their wines, cheeses and other fancy foods, and will end up with some $25 wine in my cart if I’ve had a chance to taste it.

As a curly, this love of sampling is especially true. We’d rather not invest in a whole bottle/tube/jar unless we actually know it’s going to work for us. We usually have whole cabinets – product graveyards - delegated to products that fell short of our expectations. One of the things CurlMart customers like best is they always get free samples with their order.

That’s why it’s no surprise that one of the hottest industries in the texture world is the subscription sampling box. There nearly a dozen companies selling sampling boxes dedicated to women with curls and coils. They include CurlBox, CurlCollection, Dekem Dekem, Boombox and CurlKit . Even Birchbox – the largest subscription sampling company of them all, has offered boxes hair-related boxes. Over the past two weeks alone, I’ve gotten emails from two women starting their own versions. Some are aimed specifically at women of color. Others target women with curly and coily textures. Many provide full-size products and coupons.

Subscription sampling boxes appeal to product vendors because it allows them to reach a highly targeted consumers they hope they can then convert into loyal customers. They also can provide valuable market research on what consumers truly think about their products.

But with the sampling boom as become a new kind of consumer  - The Boxer. This is the woman who subscribes to multiple sample boxes. In  some cases it helps them find that Holy Grail product they’ve been searching for their entire lives – the reason why so many brands have embraced this new marketing channel. But for others, sample boxes are replacing their need to actually go out and buy products.

This begs the question about whether these sample boxes may ultimately defeat their original purpose. Why buy the cow if  you can get the milk for free?


Topics: Beauty Industry

Michelle Breyer

Written by Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer (michelle@texturem­ is the co-founder of content and ecommerce platform Naturall­ and TextureMedia. By engaging beauty enthusiasts through original content, branded entertai­nment, social media, product reviews and commerce, TextureMedia influences up to $5 billion in hair care sales each year. Its monthly social, consumer reach is 26 million across a portfolio of digital brands, including its Market Research & Insights division, CurlyNikki and Naturall­yCurly.