The monthly gift box sold by subscription on the internet: where does its success come from? Definition, targets and risks

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A sector not subject to the crisis

The first subscription boxes appeared in 2010 in the United States with BirchBox (pioneer box), then with Glossybox in 2011 in Berlin.

In France, it was not until 2012 that subscription gift boxes made a real breakthrough. Since then, new boxes have appeared on the market every month, reaching up to 400 Boxes available today in France.

What are Gift Boxes with subscription?

It is a box of products based on a theme, that you receive in your mailbox every month (or every two months or quarterly). This discovery gift box contains several products of which you don't know the nature in advance.

The monthly box is sold as subscription via the Internet. The consumer subscribes to a fixed price and receives a monthly box containing products in the theme he has chosen. It is possible to cancel the subscription depending on the formula chosen, and consumers tend to switch easily from one box to another to try them out or out of weariness.

Just over 70% of the boxes cost between €20 and €50.

Part of sales is driven by the search for the original and ideal gift, especially during the holidays: as a Christmas gift or for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day or as a birthday gift.

The offer of gift box in France has become overabundant, more than 400 different models are sold online every month. You can choose from: Beauty Box, Women's Box, Children's Box, Teenagers' Box, Game Box, Gourmet Box, Men's Box, Couple Box, Tasting Box, Chocolate Box, Wine Box, Dog Box, Cat Box, Creative Leisure Box, Sport Box, Birth Gift Box, Jewel Box...etc.

What accounts for the success of the subscription gift box concept?

Themed gift boxes have been a great success for several years. The success comes from several factors: 

1- The first one is the element of surprise that takes up the concept of the treat cone from our childhood days. The regressive side of the return to childhood that feels good. 

2- The second is the need to pamper oneself. Since the arrival of the Covid, all leisure activities are limited and opportunities to enjoy yourself are rare. Receiving a gift box in your mailbox has become a real privilege. The pleasure of unwrapping a gift box is a real experience which becomes the pleasure ritual of each month (which we will soon no longer be able to do without?).

3- The promotional effect with a very attractive price-quality ratio: To be convincing, a 25€ box must have twice the value of the products, i.e. 50€. This gives the impression to the customers of being ultra privileged and allows them to remain loyal.

4- The all-inclusive surprise gift box effect. With the end of the year holidays approaching, it is always complicated to find the right gift for each person. With the different existing themes, easy to make someone happy, you are sure to find the right box for each person. If your father-in-law likes organic wines or vintage wines, a box exists. There is a box for each theme, even for "niche" products such as old school toys, old-fashioned sweets (candies, candy...), local handicrafts... etc...

5- Rarity. The "limited edition" effect prompts you to order or risk losing access to this month's offer and the opportunity to receive the original boxed set.

6- The special display surrounding the opening of a pretty box. Items are usually well wrapped in pretty tissue paper or in small gift bags. The pleasure of unwrapping must be maximized. The trend of the unboxing (the fact of filming oneself unwrapping the products one has just received) has developed a lot around subscription boxes.

Who is the target of the monthly Boxes?

According to studies, it is a very feminine product. Today 3/4 of the customers are women and the Beauty Boxes are the most sold gift boxes and the most represented theme.

In terms of age groups, 40% of monthly Box customers are between 25 and 34 years old. Next come the 35-44 year olds, who represent 20% of Box consumers.

What are the best selling Boxes?

The market for monthly boxes is mainly driven by the cosmetics sector. It is the beauty product boxes that sell the best and the food boxes that retain their customers the best.

In the beauty sector, Joliebox, the French beauty box for women, has had some success. This is why the American BirchBox acquired it in 2012.

Far behind among the most popular themes: Children's Boxes are the second most sought-after theme. This is followed by the Culinary Boxes, then the Wine Boxes.

Children's gift box : The most popular box after the women's beauty box.

Bought by parents (especially mothers) but used by children. The Children's Box has a double challenge: to please children but also their parents! Parents want to spoil their child but not just with any product!

This is why the children's box is generally a creative and educational box or a box more intended for the young mother (ecological diapers, baby fashion, baby meal...etc). 

The aim is to entertain the children in an intelligent way and to develop their creativity through the introduction of manual activities. A way to fight effectively against all the screens at their disposal on Wednesday afternoons at home.

For the child, receiving a box is a bit like having a birthday or seeing Santa Claus every month! The pleasure of unwrapping a gift is exhilarating at their age. The boxes concern all age groups and are on a variety of themes: books, creative hobbies, DIY kits, baking, magic, toy rental, nature...

The risk: appearing to be a simple treat cone

Building customer loyalty and maintaining an element of surprise every month is a real challenge for the players in this market. This is why the element of discovery and the quality of the products are two factors that should never be lost sight of

Indeed, the first major risks is to get bored or to appear as a treat cone if the items provided are of mediocre quality. Consumers do not want simple goodies.

- Products in monthly boxes must be original, unusual, i.e. they must not have been seen 100 times in previous or competing boxes.

- The quality of the products every month must not be lacking. Customers don't buy gadgets, they want items with real value in the market. Perceived quality must be high enough to create an impression of satisfaction with the consumer, making them want to keep subscribing.

How are the products included in the boxes chosen?

The creators of Boxes must redouble their efforts every month to select products that will surprise their customers and increase their loyalty. 

For a successful box like Birchbox, nothing could be simpler, because beauty brands use it as communication medium to test their products and provide free samples for customers. This enables cosmetic brands to get customer feedback even before launching their product on the market! A godsend. For the moment, this remains an exception reserved for the beauty sector and for boxes distributed on a large scale.

For box creators, product research is an activity by itself. To build loyalty and attract new customers, it is necessary to surprise! and therefore to find each month the right mix of products creating the element of surprise, that respects the economic imperatives while having quality products and respecting the dimensions of the box. A real puzzle!

This is why the sourcing is partly subcontracted via suppliers and wholesalers.  

The role of the suppliers in the selection of the products present in the surprise boxes

They have to be reactive partners, integrating the latest novelties of the sector and being proactive in proposing original, new and quality products.

This ability to continually renew itself is not given to everyone, especially as consumers are increasingly demanding regarding the quality of products and their origin. This is even more true when it comes to organic boxes or boxes containing eco-friendly products.

Suppliers and wholesalers of promotional items play a role in this sourcing process. Having the experience of managing the custom creation and personalization of objects for brands at very tight prices and within short deadlines, they are indispensable players in the value creation chain. 

This is why the company Marketing Creation has positioned itself in this sector. With 10 years of experience in the creation of unique and customized advertising objects, notably for prestigious clients (Dior, JolieBox, IKKS, Ikea, Givenchy, Sephora, Catimini, McDonald's, Accor Hotels, Vinci, Timberland, Kickers, Kenzo, Hugo Boss, Haribo, Lutti...etc) the company has the appropriate human, technical, logistical and sourcing resources.

Article of the company MARKETING CREATION

Marketing Creation is an Agency that develops many advertising and promotional tailor-made objects  for children and helps Brands to control their production costs.

You have an idea for a product for a Gift Box and you don't know how to develop it? 

or you would like to be guided in the search for your product to be integrated in a monthly box? 

Our team is at your disposal to create unique and quality pieces or customize existing items to best reflect your brand's DNA.

04 42 26 23 07


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