Thursday, July 10, 2014

Birchbox: The Wave of the Future

Images taken from: Birchbox.com

(The information for this article was gathered from several online sources:
 Birchbox, Forbes, Business Week, And Huffington Post)

In the beginning...

Over on Sassy Gal Reads, I just did a post on how Social Media is changing the way we shop.  While writing that post I kept wanting to mention Birchbox and how they integrate themselves into the fabric of the social community, making their presence known.  Birchbox spends no money on advertising, essentially relying on word of mouth, as well as their huge social presence.  This brand is forward thinking and definitely a brand to look to if you are trying to build your own brand. They definitely are very aware at how social media can impact buying decisions. They are ahead of the game so to speak.

From Birchbox.com: Hayley Barns & Katia Beauchamp
 Friends and Co-Founders in Oct 2010

 Two friends from Harvard Business school have truly changed the way we meet new products.  Back in 2009, Birchbox was an idea.  Thankfully, that little idea bloomed and gave us what is today called Birchbox.  Friends Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Burns were looking for a problem to solve.  They took a look around at what businesses were emerging and what was missing.  They realized that there was a need in the beauty market.  That need, discovering and selling beauty products.  They realized that most online beauty purchases weren't customers buying new products to try, but a refill of sorts.  

While consumers can walk into a retail store and give new products a try-on, they recognized a huge lack of try-ones for online shoppers.  The idea for "The Know Beauty" (Birchbox's original name- prelaunch) was born. They saw a need in the market for women to be able to try out the best products out there, all from the comforts of their home.  Their thought process included, not just providing samples, but also offering an online link to the full sized products as well.

They wanted to be able to do the weeding out for their customers. Realizing that there are essentially an overwhelming amount of choices out there for any given product, they cut through the clutter.  They offer their subscribers, what they feel are the best of the best products to choose from.  With their unbeatable point system, which is an extremely tangible use of points (unlike their competitors). Subscribers can earn up to $5 a month ($10 is he cost of the box, after providing feedback on all products in your box, you can essentially earn $5 back, maki e true cost just $5!) by leaving feedback on each product in their box that month.  This makes owning your favorite full sized product, more tangible for those who like me, may not have a huge bank account which to draw from.  

Beta Run

In 2010, the friends did an initial beta-run and scored an initial 3,000 subscribers after it's initial test.  On January 12, 2011 Birchbox employees celebrated 10,000 subscribers with champagne and bagels.  What has been a continued tradition, "Bagel Thursdays" was started in celebration over reaching the 10,000 mark.  However, by April that number had risen to 22,000. By June, the little company that could, had reached a staggering 45,000 subscribers and has just 25 employees.  Now, I'm no expert, but that seems a huge and extremely fast growth surge.  Although, with most surges you will see a drop-off eventually.  

Key to Success

From just a regular person looking in, I think that social media is the key to Birchbox's success. I have done several posts in which I am always going back to Birchbox and how they are truly the best customer experience service out there.  The reason is simple, they really listen to customer feedback, which is essential for any company seeking long-term success.  Take July's new "Choose your sample" launch, they truly are listening on the social feeds and trying to give us customers what we want.

They keep their customers at the forefront of Everything they do.  They are always having some type of giveaway, trying to promote a bigger social experience and allow heir subscribers and customers to feel more part of the brand. Brand inclusion is an extremely vital key to any brands success. Unless you are Louis Vutton, or some absolutely fabulous brand like that, making your consumer feel they are part of your brand is the key (in my opinion) to having and finding long term success. It's easy to be a trend, but you want to have longevity if you truly want a long lasting brand that companies need and rely on. 
A snapshot of the older Birchbox newsletter (I think). 


Recently one of Birchbox biggest competitors had a huge LA celebration.  This company, while they are somewhat involved in social media, they seem to not be not so great at the whole inclusion concept.  While they included us in on the party by overloading us with pictures of all the fabulous goings-on, there was an essential piece missing.  Getting your at home audience in on the experience. When e primary component to your business is that of a user, at-home experience, then it's important to realize, that it's those users buying into your $10 that is keeping you in business.   They showered us with pictures of the grab bags received by the guests to the event, but there was no giveaway for the online consumers who didn't have the ability to shell out.  After all. It's the people spending that $10 every month, that is providing these people with the success they have found.  They seem to not acknowledge how that little $10 is what keeps them in business. 

Birchbox really gets the whole Customer Inclusion concept. They are so on top of the pulse of their community and are extremely forward thinking on what to do to make themselves better.  Whether it be an individual or a business self-inspection is always needed. We never will attain perfection, so we should constantly be finding ways in which to improve ourselves.  Birchbox is top of their league in self-inspection.  From the original concept and launch of a Birchbox, to the launch of Birchbox Man in April 2012, to even the recent "Choose your sample" launch, to their Storefront, Birchbox is a brand that is constantly asking the important questions.  What's working, how can we make it better, what isn't working, what do our customers want and need?  
Last year a Subscribers boyfriend hijacked her BB and used it as a way to propose.  

They are truly making themselves so integrated into the fabric of our daily lives with YouTube "How-to Videos, to their magazine articles, to their Birchbox store, they are making sure that if you are following them that they are on your radar. It's just smart business. I'm more likely to buy from heir store versus Sephora for one:  My Birchbox points, Two: The $10 Mystery Pack. Those two factors alone were two HUGE smart business decisions. For one, I don't want to buy a product if I can get it at Birchbox.com, because I want my Birchbox points and am constantly looking at the deals where I can add 50 points to my purchase. Secondly, I always want to make sure my purchase totals a minimum of $35 so I can get that free $10 mystery pack!   
Birchbox UK: Getting Noticed. 

This is from a chic who just six months ago, was seeking the bottom priced everything. If you would have told me that Inwould be spending more than $20 on beauty products on any given month I would have thought you were insane. I was the ultimate thrifty chic.  I still am, and I still make sure that my dollar is getting he biggest bang for its buck. But with the help of Birchbix, my eyes have been opened to how quality products can make a difference in my appearance. 

There aren't many companies with whom I totally rally behind like I do with Birchbox.  In fact, I can get quite ugly when a company has poor customer service. I can be a not so nice customer at times, if pushed. But, Birchbox has me enjoying throwing my dollars at them and really happy when I see their success. Because they make me feel that their success if my success.  If it weren't for their huge social media presence and all the ways in which they try to involve the community, I can assure you, they wouldn't be my favorite service. 

For those who may be reading this and are either business owners already or thinking of starting a business, I hope that you can heed the advice about social media and being active in social communities as well as integrating your customers in your business. Take it from me,MIT makes a huge difference. 

Birchbox Soho: Birchbox's 1 Storefront

Birchbox Soho: An Inside Look
Congratulations Birchbox!
Wishing you more successes in the future!
Thanks for making your customers an important part of Birchbox!


 Like always, these are just my own opinions. I am by far Not an expert!  I am just a beauty lover, social media lover with opinions.   This should have been titled Why I love Birchbox!  

Do you agree?  Which subscription service is your all time favorite?

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