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Subscription Shoppers

A thriving area of retail, the subscription box market has exploded in popularity and profitability over the past few years – in fact my Subscription Addiction said that the number of companies listed on its website has grown from 800 to around 1,200 in the past year. It has been implemented by both large and small retailers and targeted to many different demographics, meaning there is no single market – and has in effect disrupted the traditional way in which consumers experience their goods. We had a look at some brands that had adopted this strategy and how they’ve made it work for them:


Play! is a new monthly subscription box service from cosmetic retailer Sephora. The boxes contain five curated products centred on a particular theme giving customers the opportunity to experiment with products at a fraction of the cost of a single purchase.


The service will also grant subscribers access to exclusive tutorials, unlock augmented reality experiences through their mobile app, and join the Beauty Board, wherein customers can share beauty tips, tricks, and favourite products.

The subscription also comes with a special card called a PLAY!Pass, which allows the customer to go into any Sephora store and get exclusive one-on-one tutorials with a make-up artist, as well as receiving 50 additional Beauty Insider Point (Sephora’s reward program) when it is scanned at the register.


Tired of running out of coffee beans when you need them the most(Monday morning..)? Starbucks has the solution. Their subscription service allows customers to have regular deliveries of their favourite Starbucks products or freshly roasted coffee from its new Seattle Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room shipped to customer’s homes – with the promise of it reaching them within three to five days of being roasted. Apart from giving their coffee loving customers the freshest beans around, the Reserve Roastery subscription service also asks customers to consider which of their reserve beans deserve shelf space in the retail stores.

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Other than the users of its loyalty card, Starbucks have no idea who their customers are – they just come in-store, buy a coffee and leave without ever providing any information to the brand. The subscription service changes all this as it allows Starbucks to build direct relationships with customers, track their purchase decisions, as well as acting as a sounding board and free market research.



Healthy snack box provider, Graze, was launched in the UK 2009 and quickly went from zero to 80,000 subscriptions in the six months. In this age of healthy eating concerns, it was definitely the right product for the right time. Plus snacking is one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market, driven by younger consumers and busy lifestyles that have eroded the rigidity traditional mealtimes.


It is worth noting that the success of Graze is largely due to the power of customer recommendations. The brand offer free boxes to new customers, and a code that they can give to friends that provides a free first and half price second box. Plus as a reward for sharing, the current customer also gets a free box – an offer not many can refuse and has proven a very successful online campaign.


The Graze empire has grown and grown and in 2013 Graze launched a ‘goodybox’ for children and Graze breakfast boxes, as well as a responsive website to improve the user experience on mobiles. Then, earlier this year Graze took the next step and expanded into retail with their launch of Graze Good to Go. Their now omni-channel approach offers more ways to buy and ultimately gives the consumer more choice.

Not Another Bill

Not Another Bill is aimed at don’t want to subscribe to one particular service but still like the idea of getting a fun surprise in the post each month. Including products such as knitwear, home-ware and jewellery – this is a gift box aimed at those not content with just one birthday a year.  Although this box serves no specific use it doesn’t really matter. Subscription boxes can actually just be a fun experience for customers who enjoy the surprise of discovering what’s inside, and the opportunity to try products and brands risk free!

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Launched in the USA in 2011, the BarkBox subscription service offers monthly surprises for dogs. The contents of each box crafted to meet the individual requirements of all different sizes and breeds – from puppies, to miniatures and even large breeds like Great Danes, meaning customers feel it is a personalised service. The company donates at least 10% of profits to rescue centres, shelters and animal welfare organisations, so customers can enjoy spoiling their pooch safe in the knowledge they helping to save another.

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Pink Parcel

Designed to ease the burden of periods the Pink Parcel is a monthly (of course) subscription service, designed to ease the burden of periods in two ways. Firstly and most practically it contains a bunch of tampons to eliminate last minute dashes to the pharmacy, and secondly, it includes specific treats to cheer the user up during her monthly ordeal. These treats are all branded and include Nivea, L’Occitane, Maybelline, Gousto, Paul Mitchell, Binky, MUA, Aero, TeaPigs and Café Rouge to name a few. Featuring well known brands gives the Pink Parcel extra appeal and gives the brands an opportunity to attract new consumers who might not have bought them before.



Perfect for those with a busy schedule, the Subscribe and Save service by Amazon offers up to 15% off and free shipping on a monthly delivery of thousands of products including grocery, household, beauty, health, and cooking supplies.

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Jog Box

Aimed at fitness fans, the Jog Box delivers monthly supplies of products ranging from accessories to gels and post-workout snacks

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