3 Reasons Your Company May Want to Consider Jumping on the Monthly Subscription Box Bandwagon

Jul 14, 2015

[When I receive my monthly box in the mail] I am like a kid at Christmas excited to unwrap and get their favorite toy. Love the anticipation and getting things. – Female, 39, MI

Most of us can relate to the excitement that comes with anticipating a delivery of goods we ordered or a surprise we receive in the mail. Some of us shake the box to try and guess what’s inside — and some of us tear open the package immediately with reckless abandon. Either way, it’s tough to argue with the notion that package deliveries are exciting in at least some way for the recipient. Following that idea, the team here at GutCheck decided to dig into the attitudes and behaviors around monthly subscription box services to better understand this category of purchasers and users.

The Research

We weren’t really sure how people felt in general toward monthly subscription box services, and within that, we wanted to know about these specifics, which were used to guide our exploratory qualitative research via an Instant Research Group:

  1. How do people go about finding information about the different subscription options out there, and what are their motivations and barriers to purchasing?
  2. What are the companies or brands that are most top of mind / currently most popular?
  3. Uncover whether or not people think it’s a fad or if monthly subscription boxes are here to stay, and how successful people think they’ll be down the road.

The Results

1. Monthly Subscription Boxes might be a good way to keep Consumers Engaged and Excited

The users we spoke to in our group like subscription boxes for the “excitement” of receiving the box and finding out what’s inside. The boxes also provide the benefits of convenience, good value (mostly), and are a great way to try products. The boxes typically have the latest, trendy products, and people like that they can receive high-quality products at home. Several respondents said they see these deliveries as a surprise every month, even when some of the products are pre-selected, and a nice pick-me-up.

Being a monthly member of subscription box services means GETTING MAIL! It’s a rush haha. I love opening my mailbox and seeing a package and knowing there is a variety of mystery goods waiting to be explored. Another advantage is… accessible items that might not be as accessible to the average person. – Female, 26, FL

2. Monthly Subscription Boxes may be on the Rise

The current subscribers we spoke with believe that the demand for monthly subscription boxes will continue to increase, given their observations/expectations that many people are not yet aware of subscription boxes. They also felt the number and type of subscription boxes would increase in the future, and think some of the larger retailers (Walmart, for example) will start to offer subscription boxes as part of their ecommerce strategies.

As a result of these factors, respondents feel that as long as there is an interest in online shopping (for the benefits of convenience, excitement, and sourcing products), there will be demand for subscription boxes. To take advantage of this rising trend, companies may want to consider and evaluate monthly subscription boxes as part of their ecommerce strategy, as a new sales avenue perhaps.

My guess is big traditional companies will incorporate this into their business plans much like e-commerce sites. – Male, 36, LA

3. There is demand for a wide range of goods categories

One of the most interesting nuggets of information we got from our respondents was the wide range of goods categories that are in demand as far as monthly subscription boxes go. From mainstream everyday items like snacks, beverages, and clothing to luxury items like high-quality chocolate and desserts to lifestyle items like fitness products, toys, and home wares, our respondents mentioned several different product categories they would purchase and use if they were available. Although beauty boxes are currently one of the most widely known and used monthly subscription box services, any company could consider providing a monthly subscription box, given the demand for a wider range of boxed product category options.

4. Opportunities exist to increase demand for the monthly subscription box space

In order to understand how the companies and brands who currently offer these types of monthly subscription boxes might be able to improve their offerings as well as increase their consumer reach, we asked our respondents to describe in great detail what their idea of the best subscription box would be. They felt the ideal box is personalized, always exciting to receive, and has a lot of flexibility. In order to maintain their subscription, people need their boxes to remain exciting, provide new “surprises” each month, and limit items they do not like, need, or want. To avoid receiving items they don’t want or need:

  • People are looking for boxes that can be quite tightly personalized, either through the sign-up questionnaire or manual selection.
  • People want a lot of flexibility in their box subscription. In other words, they want to choose from a range of sizes, price points, levels of quality, and the ability to easily start, pause, or stop their subscription.

Through growing awareness of monthly subscription boxes and increasing gifting behavior, companies and brands have opportunities to increase demand. A good online presence, good online reviews, and positive word of mouth are key influencers in the purchase decision process, based on our research. Furthermore, companies entering the subscription box space should consider these elements in the design of their offer in order to increase their chances of success.

I would definitely buy subscription boxes again in the future, and definitely buy them as presents for other people! I think it’s a fun gift that keeps on giving, and you don’t need to do the shopping yourself! Finally the struggles for the perfect gift for husbands/fathers/brothers are over. – Female, 26, FL

So, what type of people should monthly subscription box services be targeting?

Based on our research results and how our respondents described monthly subscription box users, here is a user profile we created:

Monthly Subscription User Profile

Now, this isn’t the whole story from our exploratory research. We were able to pull out several additional key insights from our enthusiastic respondents, including:

  • The large range of suggestions from respondents for new types of boxes they wish existed
  • Pain points around subscription boxes in general and how companies could remedy or avoid them
  • The most mentioned brands, as well as the most popular types of boxes
  • The biggest influencers on which box to buy, and what product usage actually looks like
  • Advantages and disadvantages of being a member of monthly subscription box services, including suggestions related to the structure of the box and/or delivery
  • The most common key words people typically use when they search for monthly subscription box options, including where they go to discover different offerings

To get the rest of the story on all of the above and more, download and read the full report.

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