The “un-boxing” of freshly out of the UPS van deliveries is a trend that is building up momentum. For an example of the instant gratification provided by unboxing, look no further than the ever-growing subscription box market. What once felt like a risky, niche enterprise is now an industry with a value of almost $2 billion. That’s pretty impressive for a business model that essentially demands that customers’ part with their money for mystery goods, sight unseen.
Subscription boxes may feel like a new development in the world of e-retail, but they have actually been in operation since 2004. The first was known as The Sampler, which offered, in their own words, “an ever-changing monthly collection of samples, goodies, promos and more from indie crafters, record labels and zines – mailed right to your door!”
Naturally, The Sampler has long been superseded by other businesses that took their model and ran with it. That’s the nature of retail – no good idea will remain unique for long. What The Sampler really tapped into, however, was the desire for novelty and surprise. That is how you reel in Millennials and Zoomers – by ensuring that, at least once a month, the gratification of a ‘secret’ purchase will be in their hands.
Not all subscription boxes retain a sense of mystery. The most successful subscription model in the world is the Dollar Shave Club. If a consumer subscribes to this service and receives a bunch of flowers instead of a set of razors, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be hitting the cancel button. Many others, however, play up the idea of surprise. Consumers don’t know what will be in their box this month – and that creates an almost unbearable level of anticipation.
A subscription box will invariably be packaged beautifully and branded, which makes its arrival feel like more of an event. Using holiday gift comparison, it’s akin to finding a box wrapped into a beautiful bow under the tree. The difference is, a subscription service means the holidays come twelve times a year. Then comes the biggest thrill of all – unboxing the contents, and learning what delights lie inside.
This is where the gratification of a subscription box comes from. Younger generations have been raised in a disposable society. While collectors will always exist, look at how streaming entertainment services have impacted physical media sales. Nobody is forced to watch the same movie over and over anymore – why bother, when Netflix adds ten new releases each day?
This logic also applies to the popularity of the subscription box. The experience of unboxing a new delivery, and the thrill that comes with that, outweighs any concerns over the practicality or value of the contents within.
If you have a subscription box business or are planning to start one and need a seasoned 3PL to help you with your pick-pack-ship, check out Ameriworld Fulfillment – their experience could be your advantage.