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Thinking inside the (subscription) box

BY Jennifer Rignani

For home brands, one of the greatest struggles is how to get products in the hands of new customers. Big-box competition is fierce, the online space is noisy and DIY trends are booming as millennials flood the home market. Maybe it’s time the category took a cue from the fashion, beauty and food sectors, which have harnessed a tested-and-true method to give people what they want: subscription boxes.

The boom in boxes

According to Forbes, subscription boxes are exploding, growing by 800% since 2014. In April 2017 alone, subscription company websites had about 37 million visitors, with 5.7 million subscribers already in their database.

Subscription-only brands, like Ipsy and Stitch Fix, have achieved wildfire success by sending customers bespoke items curated to their needs and tastes as defined by the subscriber-submitted profile. The surprise of a collection matching a person’s taste, budget and lifestyle is part of the popularity. In a digital world where there are few secrets, the experience of opening a box without knowing exactly what’s inside is intriguing. And the direct feedback inherent to subscription boxes ensures that just the right products keep coming at a frequency of the consumer’s choosing.

Market intelligence firm Euromonitor International reported that, in general, subscription box receivers are a group highly active on social media and highly likely to connect on blogs and other channels to share their experiences, increasing a brand’s exposure exponentially, and organically, without additional investment.

Perfect fit for millennials

Millennials place a high value on individuality, customization and personal branding. And that’s why a home-based subscription box could hit the bullseye and become a part of their lifestyle. Millennials are more likely to purchase a home and re-do it top to bottom. They want a property that allows them to personalize and leave their mark. 

Millennial pet owners, parents and lovers of fashion, beauty, food and wine have a wide array of choices in the box space. Even things like a Brotein Box (power bars) and a Retro Box (stuff from childhood) are selling. But boxes for DIY projects in the home are few and far between.

A home DIY subscription box could contain paint samples, tiles, house numbers, flooring, gardening tools, lighting and more. But of “The 50 Best Subscription Boxes” listed on the popular lifestyle website PureWow, just three were classified as home boxes. These contained candles, hygge items and pet-themed products. 

The subscription box curation, enrollment, swap and review site My Subscription Addiction lists thousands of options, but only 98 boxes are under the Home category, and all of those but The Handy Box are lifestyle and décor accessories. Home category brands are missing an incredible opportunity with the subscription box game.

Experts at the 2017 Subscription Summit (the largest event dedicated to the subscription box industry) said: “The data indicate that winners and losers are not yet chosen, the market is wide open right now for anyone with a better idea and better execution to develop their business and become a leader.” In other words, now is the time for home brands to take their cue and add the subscription box model to marketing plans.

Mostly, this innovative marketing method is driven by brands who use subscription boxes as their sole channel to customers. But some traditional companies have caught on. 

Publisher Conde Nast recently added GQ as the fourth title to get its own box. Global media and technology company PopSugar’s monthly subscription box PopSugar Must Have, is among the high-end lifestyle boxes. In essence, the influencer influences the influencer.

Wide open lane for home

This trend is something home brands have yet to fully embrace. If they can figure this out, just as home advising services move from offline to online and disrupted that industry, adding subscription boxes into the marketing mix could be a game changer.

 

Jennifer Rignani is a brand journalist at Brunner. Visit brunnerworks.com.

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NAHB names Stephen Jones as Custom Home Builder of the Year

BY HBSDealer Staff

Orlando — The National Association of Home Builders has named Stephen Jones as its Custom Home Builder of the Year.

Jones is the founder and CEO of Merlin Contracting & Developing in Las Vegas and was given the award during a ceremony at the NAHB International Builders' Show.

Jones believes his company's craftsmanship and innovation are key to creating each client's dream home. With projects ranging from new estate homes to renovations of homes and condominiums, Jones credits quality building, good communication and exceptional project managers for the company's success at satisfying customers' unique visions.

One penthouse renovation was described in the Wall Street Journal business section as having a "James Bond-like aura," with secret rooms, disappearing walls and other intriguing features. A 4,108-sq.-ft. custom home with Moroccan hand-painted wood panels, a cantilevered roof with oculus and a metal pivot front entry door was dubbed "the coolest house in Las Vegas" and featured in Architectural Digest.

During each of the past six years, Merlin Contracting & Developing has completed two custom homes ranging in value from $1.8 million to $10.2 million, as well as averaging six custom remodels ranging in value from $19,000 to $9.5 million and three custom high-rise unit remodels ranging from $13,000 to $15.2 million.

"Steve likes to say he's built homes 'with a handshake rather than a contract' — and that integrity shines through not just in the relationships he establishes with his clients but in the fine craftsmanship that marks his homes," said Gary Wilkerson, president of Gary L. Wilkerson Custom Homes and chairman of the NAHB Custom Builders Committee.

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