Online Exclusives

Try Before You Buy

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | November 13, 2012

Birchbox cashes in on the sampling craze.

Every day, consumers are faced with millions of options in the billion-dollar beauty market. But besides lux ingredients or eye-catching packaging, word-of-mouth claims can propel a SKU way ahead of others. Enter Birchbox, a NYC-based business that claims to deliver premiere products and insider secrets, without any fuss.

Every month, Birchbox members receive a curated box of prestige beauty samples. Each box spans beauty categories (hair care, skin care, color cosmetics, fragrance) to constantly offer variety. Co-founders Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, who met at Harvard Business School, created Birchbox to help consumers cut through the clutter of the retail world.
For example, a Birchbox would feature a lip/cheek stain from The Balm, a Color Club nail polish, Shu Uemura Art of Hair protective oil, Stila One Step bronzer and a hair tie. A card in the box identifies the products and also offers the full price of each SKU (and all together, the full price of the products in the above Birchbox add up to $147).
A classic Birchbox set.
So, what makes Birchbox so unique? According to Beauchamp, “Birchbox is a discovery retail platform. We not only provide a way to discover the newest and best in beauty, grooming, and lifestyle items, but we bring our members a 360° personalized experience, providing products that fit their beauty profile, and then help them learn how to use those products with original editorial and a full e-commerce shop.”

Birchbox launched in September 2010, and in less than two years has expanded its footprint and quickly grown its retail business. The brand has built a monthly subscriber base of more than 100,000—representing a 20% monthly growth rate during the past year. A testament to the impact of successful sampling, 40% of Birchbox’s subscribers have gone on to purchase full-sized products from the Birchbox online shop within their first year as a subscriber.
Additionally, more than 200 brand partners have teamed up with Birchbox, gaining a personal invitation into consumers’ homes month after month.
Special holiday promotion for men.
Birchbox Man is the latest innovation at the company. Rolled out in April, it features men’s grooming and lifestyle products. Like the original Birchbox women’s offering, Birchbox Man is built on the company’s multi-channel discovery commerce platform: a handpicked online shop, personalized monthly box subscriptions and online complementary content.

“With the debut of Birchbox Man, we are taking our successful discovery shopping formula into new territory and are confident the experience will delight our new male customers and provide a great gift option for our female subscribers,” noted Beauchamp.

From shave gel to stylish socks, Birchbox Man subscribers will receive 4-5 hand-picked deluxe samples and products from top grooming and lifestyle brands for $20 each month. At launch, Birchbox has partnered with established and niche brands – including Billy Jealousy, Costume National, Kérastase and Kiehl’s.

The company is armed and ready to celebrate Holiday 2012. Beauchamp told, “Our holiday boxes are a celebration of our favorite products plus a few new ones. We have Juice Beauty’s CC Cream, the newest thing to hit the beauty market, as well as hero products like Kiehl’s Crème de Corps. We are also featuring exclusive holiday sets by Stila, Color Club and more.”

As for the men’s kits, an assortment of Oribe products are “hitting the shop” for Holiday 2012 including Supershine and Signature Shampoo and Conditioner. “We also have great shaving products from John Allan’s. Our Men’s shop has a large lifestyle component that includes everything from RumbaTime watches to Richer & Poorer Socks,” said Beauchamp.
And, for 2013, “We are always keeping expansion and new potential verticals in mind, and are constantly looking for the newest products and brands to deliver to our customers!”
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