A gift from you, to you

Subscription boxes offer a range of niche products, from makeup to undergarments

Buttalks isan triannualunderwearsubscription boxfor men.

While surprise gifts make us feel loved, we don’t have to wait for someone else to buy us the goodies we love. With all the focus on self-love, why not treat yourself with gifts every month? Enter subscription boxes; a periodical delivery of niche items, ranging from skincare products to chocolate.

Why are they popular?

Jinali Shah, the founder of lifestyle box ‘Mauvelush’, says that she began the service after seeing similar boxes during her stay in the US. “Subscription boxes was a niche market that was yet to be fully explored,” she says. 

Nandita Iyer, a city-based author, subscribes to ‘Shades of Spring’, a Bengaluru based flower subscription service. For the past year she has been getting flowers delivered to her every week, “I love that it’s a surprise, it feels like someone is gifting me, even though I’m paying for them myself.” She adds that it is very reasonable and she is spared from the hassle of traffic to get to a florist.
Most of those who subscribe to boxes cite the same reasons for their continued loyalty. 

The period of delivery is one to four months.  

What’s in the market?

‘Cocoatrait’, begun by Nitin Chordia, takes its subscribers on the “journey of chocolate tasting”. Nitin believes that people don’t know how to savour chocolate and says it should be appreciated like fine wine. “The knowledge regarding chocolate is lacking and many people, even if interested, don’t know where to begin. This service aims to nudge people in the right direction,” says Nitin. They have two categories of boxes — regular and luxury. Nitin has observed that while people tend to buy the luxury box for themselves, the regular ones are mostly given as gifts. 

If you thought subscription boxes are only meant to pamper you, think again. ‘Buttalks’, a Chennai based service, is an underwear subscription box for men. “The average life cycle of a pair of underpants is 30 washes, but we’ve noticed that men don’t pay attention to this and continue using worn out items,” says founder, Brijesh Devareddy. Their subscription model fits with their philosophy, with a box of products reaching their customers every four months. This period correlates with the earlier mentioned life cycle time. Majority of their customers are men but they also have a lot of women buying the boxes for the men in their lives. Apart from these, there are subscription boxes for beauty products, pet grooming items, books, clothes and many more.

A profitable venture?

Subscription boxes usually include branded products; many services boast that their boxes cost less than the combined value of the products in them. How do they then sustain themselves?

Jinali says that initially, they approached brands and asked if they wanted to be featured in the boxes. Now they have brands requesting collaborations. “Unboxing videos, where influencers open these boxes and show off the items to their followers, greatly help us in terms of marketing to potential clients and other brands,” she says. 

All the brands say that their one-month starter or trial options are the most popular. 

However, Nitin says that the one and three month subscriptions are counted as brand investments, since they don’t make any profits from these options. “Most people move towards the six-month option once they’ve tried the products. This is the only option that gives us any profit,” he explains. Their specially insulated boxes contain chocolates from premium brands as well as products of their own. While they don’t do any brand collaborations, he says there is an informal understanding between the companies. Buttalks also has a retail shop, where they sell the same products as in their boxes. They are planning to come up with their own line sometime next year.

Demand in the city

Bengaluru seems to be quite into this novel idea. Brijesh says more than 40 per cent of their all-India sales are from the city. Jinali too says Bengaluru contributes to a large number of their purchases. Nitin says that while
they don’t get many orders from the city, there are a large number of deliveries to people residing here.

 

Take your pick...

The Big Book Box is a surprise box of books and literature related goodies. Visit thebigbookbox.com

Glam Ego is a monthly beauty box that sends four to five products in a box. Find out more on glamego.com

House of Paws gives belly rub boxes, which are meant for your furry companion. Find out more on houseofpaws.in

CareBear is a period care box that comes with hygiene products, food, activities and goodies for that time of the month. Find out more on carebear.in

BlingBag is a monthly bag of boutique jewellery at affordable prices. Visit blingbag.co.in

Krate is a men’s clothing box. They curate a personalised look every month. Visit krate.in

WowBox is India’s first Japanese subsciption box. They offer unconventional snacks. Visit wowbox.jp

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