The holidays are supposed to be about family and friends, but let’s be honest. For a lot of us, it’s just about the presents. There’s something about getting a gift,
even especially in the mail, that gives people the warm fuzzies. It’s no surprise Amazon addiction is a thing–it turns opening your mailbox into Christmas morning.
Except there’s one thing Amazon can’t replicate (or hasn’t yet) and that’s the surprise factor. Half the fun of getting a gift is the element of surprise. What’s in the box?! Now, you might’ve had too much wine before a late night purchase and could be very surprised indeed at what’s in said box. But for the rest of us who think and doublethink our online purchases, there’s a little thing called subscription boxes. And by little, I mean huge.
What are Subscription Boxes?
Once upon a time, you might have thought of them as Cheese-of-the-Month Clubs, but thanks to the popularity of Loot Crate and other subscription services, they’ve become designer. Very posh.
A subscription box is a box full of goodies, usually curated around a theme. Everything from food, to clothing, to makeup, to toys. Usually auto-renewing like Netflix, these ‘crates’ arrive at your door monthly, boasting cool (sometimes exclusive) inclusives worth far more than your payment.
A great example (and my personal favorite) is OwlCrate, a subscription box for Young Adult books. Each month’s box is focused around a theme–Dystopian Future, like Hunger Games, or Epic Fantasy. A subscriber gets a new book and a bunch of other surprises related to whatever genre happens to be the flavor of the month. Cool? Very.
You could say the fascination with subscription services is the surprise factor, but for a lot of people it’s really about relinquishing the hassle of picking out items. Sure, the straits are not as dire if you’re talking about a box full of toys and collectables–although they do make picking out a gift that much easier. But there are subscription boxes for clothing too. Companies like MM.LaFleur that will have their experts assemble you a box of fully-formed outfits and ship it to your door. If the price is right, that’s a huge burden off a person’s shoulders.
As the designer nature of the ‘crate’ grows, so does the call for greater aesthetics. In fact, marketing experts are already advising e-retailers to move from the classic cardboard box to luxury packaging. Why? Well, the current box material of choice is corrugated, typically e-flute. It’s light, it’s rugged, it’s economical. But, to put it bluntly, it ain’t pretty. Granted, there are several ways to customize cardboard–even ways that will keep it completely environmentally friendly–but typically an e-retailer package looks about as glamorous as your stuffed packed for moving. Is that such a big deal? After all, it’s not like at a brick and mortar store, where that visual impression counts for everything. The customer’s already made the purchase by the time the box arrives!
However, it does come down to visual marketing. Currently, the main advertising for subscription box services comes from YouTube unboxers. Folks that open their crates live on video, with an audience of thousands, potentially even millions. Many more eyes than what could come through a department store on a given afternoon. So if the box is to be the star of the show, shouldn’t it dress like a star? You wouldn’t wear your bathrobe to a red carpet event, would you?
The custom box design needs to pop when it comes to subscription boxes. As the trend starts to rise, and the online unboxings grow, more and more of these services are going to make the move to presentation packaging.