In a world where for most people home delivered food shopping, Amazon Prime next day delivery and on demand video are a norm, it could be said that people try their best to not actually leave their homes to get their goods and services. I for one could well be accused of that.
Slotting nicely into this trend of products on demand is the subscription box service. I dare say that anyone reading this has got, tried, or at least heard of a subscription box service at some point.
Simply put for those who don’t know, subscription boxes are designed to make it easy to get the products they contain with no effort on the purchasers part, no going to ten shops etc to find one cool T-shirt for example. Whilst at the same time theoretically giving the purchaser better value of money, most boxes come with the claim that the goods inside far exceed in value the purchasing price. You also get a lovely feeling of warmth because you get a ‘surprise’ themed collection every month, at least in many cases.
So how does it physically work? Easy, you pay a set amount for the subscription, like a magazine subscription, and normally the longer the period you sign up for in one lump the cheaper the price. Then every set time period, most are monthly but some are bi-monthly or longer, you receive through the post a ‘box’ or ‘crate’ containing random themed goods from said service.
To give you some examples a quick google search reveals that goods on offer from various services are as varied as:
- Geek/Pop Culture Items
- Healthy Snacks
- Arts and Crafts
- Pet related items
- Sex Related Items
and the list goes on
It seems that almost anything can be bought as a box as long as you are willing to part with some money every month. Some internet celebs are even getting in on the act, I found one specifically advertising as being curated by Naomi Kyle of IGN fame, I’m not sure exactly what that means but i assume they just give her a list of things and she says that’s great or not, but maybe I am doing her a disservice I don’t know.
It does make you wonder though how long until all the celebs reckon it is a great money spinner to have a Victoria Beckham perfume box or a Man Utd fan box etc.
So why write this?
The whole thing fascinates me, and hopefully you to, there are so many different types boxes in existence, until i had a germ of an idea to do this piece I thought it was mainly pop culture stuff so it was interesting to see such a wide variety on offer. It also fascinates me how different it is from other ‘convenience items’ because something that is inherently designed to make people not go out and be sociable has somehow got a massive community around it where they share videos, pictures etc of their latest un-boxing, even though they all get the same items as each other they still start discussions from it. I mean you don’t see everyone tweeting about buying their food from Tesco or buying their weights set from Amazon!
Loot-Crate (one of the more popular boxes) has 588,000 follows on twitter and 15,600 likes on their tweets for example.
To me it seems the ‘geek’/’pop culture’ and alcohol boxes are the most popular, and certainly the most available ‘types’ certainly from a community standpoint. This is especially odd in some ways with the geeky boxes as you would think that a percentage of the purchasers would be socially awkward like me. I suppose that they are also the ones most familiar with being in internet only type communities (such as Rooster Teeth) so that may go some way to explaining it.
I for one enjoy my Loot-Crate turning up once a month for two reasons, one I get a cool T-shirt that actually fits as part of every box (and i hate trying to buy store bought shirts!) and two it feels a little like a mini Christmas every month.
The service does offer some potential negatives to think on though. What do you do with the items you are not interested in, does this potentially cause more landfill? Are the suppliers of the goods to the crates getting enough in return? Especially the craft product ones where the good inside are being made by small businesses.
To answer the question posed in the title, no they are not just a geek thing. As far as i can see anyway, but it would be interesting to get hard data on which boxes sell the best, i reckon the geek and pop culture ones would be right up there! Go ahead give it a quick google you will be amazed by how many different ones you can find.
What do you think about subscription boxes? Do you have any subscription boxes and why do you have them? Let us know in the comments below.