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The trend of subscription boxes started sometime in 2010 with the launch of Birchbox, a beauty sample monthly subscription service. Thereafter, many other businesses jumped onto the bandwagon to tap into the potential of subscription boxes. Today, subscription boxes cover a variety of consumer goods, from beauty products to snacks and drinks, from fitness to books and crafts. With so many subscription boxes, there are even dedicated websites that provide a directory of subscription boxes.
Jewellery, too, has caught the subscription box fever, and in the US you can easily find a plethora of jewellery subscription boxes. Generally, most jewellery boxes allow the subscriber to select one out of the few fashion genres that suit their individual preferences and the company delivers a box of two to five jewellery pieces each month to the subscriber. To date, most jewellery subscription boxes are centred around costume jewellery, rather than fine jewellery.
While most of them work as a monthly purchase, there are jewellery subscription boxes that work with a rental approach, one such example is Rocksbox. Upon receiving the jewellery pieces, the subscriber can use them for the allocated period, after which these have to be returned to the company. In the event the subscriber wants to keep a piece, she will then be billed for that selected piece of jewellery.
The clear benefit of subscription boxes to jewellers is the increase in product sales to the mass consumer. In normal circumstances, the rate of jewellery purchase varies heavily according to marketing efforts, product preference and, largely, impulsive consumer behaviour. That said, the likelihood of the mass consumer purchasing a jewellery piece every month and from the same store is very low. Monthly subscription boxes circumvent exactly that. It ties down the customer to purchase not one but sometimes two or more jewellery pieces every month, voluntarily. While no actual numbers were shared, RocksBox acknowledges that its customer base has been growing by 30-40% month on month and by over 20 times in the past year. Jewellery subscription boxes are able to do so not because they offer a better product, but with a promise of making the subscriber fashionable and stylish with modern and updated jewellery pieces and in the convenience of the consumer’s home.
In line with this approach, jewellery subscription boxes rely heavily on bloggers and social media darlings to advertise for them. Across these company websites, many openly recruit individuals to review them, posting pictures of themselves wearing the jewellery pieces on popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. This marketing approach is a win-win situation for both the consumer and company.
Despite its popularity in the US, there are limited jewellery subscriptions offered outside of North America. In addition, established costume jewellery brands have yet to adopt this method around the world. So, are jewellery subscription boxes truly a great bargain?
As a concept, the idea of purchasing style and fashion forward status has always been attractive to the consumer, thus the price of the jewellery is of less relevance, especially for costume jewellery. The popularity of jewellery subscription boxes is likely to shadow that of earlier subscription boxes. Beauty sample subscription boxes have been around for years – with consumers who first started subscribing sharing that the concept is now stale. Some lament having too many sample bottles, not fully utilising them before the next one comes. Storage of these sample bottles also becomes an issue for them. While it is still early to comment, if history is anything to go by, then jewellery subscription boxes may have a limited marketing life as well. Nonetheless, jewellery subscription boxes have increased – and will continue to increase – the frequency of jewellery sales. If jewellery subscription boxes are able to maintain a high level of interest and engagement with today’s consumers, the life span of such a marketing concept may be prolonged.