The Meteoric Rise of the Subscription Box (Anecdotally) Explained

The phenomenon of people buying things through the mail is not new.  In fact, a publisher in Venice made catalogs of the books he printed in 1498.  Seeds, farm equipment, and books have ben sold via the mail for hundreds of years.

But today, it seems like the subscription box is taking over.

The subscription box industry, according to the association SUBTA, has seen an increase of 831% since 2014.

It’s no wonder there are now so many companies selling via subscriptions with over 5.7 million people buying.

So, we asked friends, family, and strangers who regularly buy these products WHY they do.  And here, in no order, were their most popular answers.

  1. Trying something new that you would just not buy for yourself – many of the services like IPSY are all about sampling. You get trial size versions of beauty and personal care items.  This, according to many of our respondents, is a great way to experience a new product without the investment of a full-sized product that you might end up not liking and then, wasting.
  2. Being able to use without commitment – Le Tote is today’s version of borrowing your best friend’s necklace. Shoppers get to answer a few questions about style and wear preferences, and then receive 2 boxes of 5 pieces (both clothing and accessories) that they can keep for as long as they like.  They can even purchase the piece(s) at a discount at any time.
  3. Better prices – With many subscriptions of consumables that a household uses regularly such as dog food, diapers and cleaning products, retailers offer discounts for signing up to receive them regularly. Shipping is often free, so for many the convenience of having the products arrive without having to think about it is a lifesaver.
  4. The surprise factors – With services like Stitch Fix, respondents say it’s the closest thing to feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, because your personal stylist picks out items that s/he feels the shopper will like based on answers to a style survey and items on his/her Pinterest board.
  5. Time saving – most consumers of subscription box services have small children in the home, so the logical assumption is that busy people use subscription boxes to save time. Again, recurring arrivals of staples cuts down on shopping trips and is one less thing for a busy family to worry about.
  6. FOMO – The advent of social media has people feeling like they are missing out on all the fun when they see the posts about all their friends using these services. There is often a referral bonus program, so sharing is encouraged by the companies.
  7. Personal service – Many of the boxes contain personal notes from a stylist, which increases the feeling that someone is out there making choices customized specifically for each consumer. For many it feels like having a personal shopper without having to go to a fancy department store and spending lots of money.

Convenience, fun, saving money and time, and sampling.  All great reasons that millions of people are buying, more companies are entering the market every month, and sales are soaring.

The subscription box is here to say and we, for one, are happy to have it here.

Happy Shopping!