What's to Become of the Beauty Box? Has the Phenomenon Peaked?


In just 5 short years, beauty boxes have transformed the way companies communicate their beauty brand credentials to consumers.

But what started out as an innovative way of sampling products is losing its appeal – too many boxes to choose from, too many sachets, a disappointing selection of products that don’t quite match the hype. Why would anyone want to keep up with their monthly subscription?

For many, the initial excitement and anticipation of receiving the next month’s beauty box has worn off.

Beauty Box Schemes are in Need of a Makeover

This isn’t just my view, but one that is shared with award winning beauty blogger Hayley Carr, aka London Beauty Queen, who believes that the original aim of encouraging discovery and injecting passion back into beauty is getting lost as boxes lose their sparkle.

She decided to find out what her followers would like to see from beauty boxes in 2016, so ran a Twitter survey.

She asked:

How can beauty boxes improve in 2016? What would you like to see from them?

Out of 288 respondents:

  • 43% wanted better value/offers

  • 20% cited cool collaborations

  • 19% hoped for fewer repeat brands

  • 18% expected fresher products

Overwhelmingly, respondents wanted to see better value and offers, including more premium beauty products, bigger sizes and an increase in the number of treats inside. However, it may be a tall order that the likes of Glossybox and Birchbox increasingly find difficult to deliver.

In her blog post on the subject, Hayley points out that beauty box subscriptions were first established to provide a sample of something great, aimed at aiding discovery of brands and products that you wouldn’t normally know about.

“It was never meant to be a huge goodie bag of premium greatness landing on your doorstep, but rather providing a trialling opportunity in order to decide whether or not to invest in the full size product.”

Has the Market and Appetite for Beauty Box Schemes Peaked?

I asked Hayley whether she felt that the Beauty Box's days were numbered.

She replied: “I think the demand is still there but right now nobody is delivering anything above and beyond.“

No one brand is even meeting expectations, let alone exceeding them.

“There is always demand for discovery but the trick is to keep things fresh and constantly evolving: a lot of the UK boxes stagnate very quickly.”

One in five consumers want to see cooler collaborations from beauty box schemes

The future may lie in the desire for cooler collaborations, cited by nearly a fifth of respondents.

There have been many to choose from: Glossybox partnered premium make-up brand Nars, The Perfume Society dedicated a box to Les Infusions de Prada range; Birchbox has collaborated with lifestyle brand Skinny Dip and ballet shoe brand French Sole; Latest in Beauty regularly partners Glamour magazine and the CEW (UK) Product Beauty Awards.

All of these help to generate interest and excitement as well as providing that all-important hook on which to base the contents –but is it enough to keep consumers coming back for more?

How can You Keep their Offer Appealing and Fresh?

Hayley believes it can be done through new brands, fewer repeat products, offers, discovery and generally a real reason to keep paying out every month.

I’ve also been thinking for some time that retailers and online beauty sellers could become a lot more involved in beauty boxes. “Build your own" Birchbox's collaboration with Selfridges has been a huge success, but think how much more retailers could do with similar but regular box scheme partnerships.

Hayley agrees, saying: “The whole point of boxes is discovery and trial, so it’s a great way to introduce new brands and upsell to existing fans.”

Hayley also thinks that beauty etailers are missing a trick. “Nobody is doing it well right now, so there’s a huge opportunity. Birchbox tries to convert to sales, but why would you buy from them when you can tab onto an order elsewhere?”

Hayley’s research confirms that beauty box schemes need to change through creative collaborations, the introduction of exciting new launches and added value through the use of guest editors and beautiful boxes.

I’m sure she will be fascinated by what happens next and hopes the phrase 'beauty box' will turn into something associated with indulgence and desire. Rather than a waste of money.

I’d be really interested to hear what you think about beauty box schemes. Do you feel they should be improved upon? Do they add value to a beauty brand's offer?

Image supplied by Feelunique.com