In the morning you brew a cup of coffee that you received in a box. You go to work wearing a random shirt that you received in a box earlier that week. You’re freshly shorn with the razors that you just received in a box. You return home from work and make supper with the ingredients that were in the box that was waiting for you when you got home and then after dinner you play a video game that you just received in a box yesterday. Subscription boxes are hot shit. Why?
A Boat’s a Boat But A Box Could Be Anything…It Could Even Be a Boat
We love a good mystery. Our lives seem relatively pre-determined much of the time. We know SO much about everything that we’re going to encounter in a given day, we’re hyper-aware of everything going on around us thanks to a maniacal addiction to social media. There are no surprises…except what’s in the box.
Some of these boxes are TOTALLY surprising where you have NO idea what you’re getting while others simply throw in a surprise here or there. But we LOVE surprises. If we didn’t, why would we still throw surprise parties and surprise our significant others with marriage proposals and surprise our kids with a trip to Disneyland. We love surprises and surprise boxes are no exception.
My Name Is Barack Obama and I Approve This Message
Content curation is the hottest thing out right now. Last week President Obama released his summer playlists and the Internet exploded. EVERYONE wanted to listen. Subscription boxes are an opportunity for us to receive things from PROFESSIONALS who obviously know what’s best for us. We want curated playlists and movie’s recommended by actors and we want to know what book Oprah’s reading and we want someone to give us a box of stuff that somebody thought was really cool.
It’s Nice To Get Mail That Isn’t a Bill or An Ad
When’s the last time you got a piece of mail and though, “SHIT YEAH, THAT’S AWESOME.” I’m guessing it doesn’t happen often. Here’s what I get in the mail. My water bill, offers for high speed internet and direct marketing targeting the dead guy who used to live in our house. Aside from Christmas cards, wedding invitations and the occasional baby announcement, our mail sucks. So imagine if you go something awesome in the mail.
We used to send mail to people. Letters. Parcels. Whatever. We used to use the mail and getting mail, good mail, not bills mail is an exciting call to the past. I remember as a kid being so excited to check the mail and now, subscription boxes offer me that opportunity once again.
I Mean…It’s Right There
Thus far, startups have failed to come across something that they can’t put in a box and send to people. My favorite is Plated, who send you a box filled with fresh ingredients and a recipe. They send you dinner…in a box. You just have to cook it.
Now, there has yet to be a subscription box that is filled with things we CAN’T just go out and find on our own. There’s no subscription box where you get a real unicorn or a reasonable Twitter debate. These are not things that we can’t find elsewhere…but elsewhere is not a box, delivered to our home.
We pay a premium for convenience. If you asked people to value time savings, cost savings and quality…time is OFTEN going to come out on top. It’s the one thing that you seemingly can’t buy, or couldn’t until now. Now, I can make a number of errands obsolete simply by clicking a check mark on a phone or computer. And then they’ll deliver my underwear, or socks, or coffee, or whatever.
Make Money While You’re Sleeping
This one here is actually not about the consumer, but rather the subscription service. Subscription services work because people just carry on. We treat a lot of subscriptions as though it would be as difficult as cancelling a gym membership (which by the way should be a hell of a lot easier) and so often we just let them run. “Cool…I’ll just keep getting razors/socks/books/whatever.” Once someone subscribes, you generally have to do a reasonably shitty job to make them unsubscribe.
Recurring revenue is a company’s dream. While everyone else is running around trying to figure out how they’re going to get that client for next month and how they’re going to meet quarterly goals, subscription services provide businesses with a clear view of their finances. Recurring revenue just HAPPENS. You don’t have to work for it. It’s just THERE. And that’s why more and more businesses are launching subscription boxes.
Over the last few decades, we’ve seen business model after business model emerge and collapse but so long as we keep delivering things to people, subscription boxes seem like a pretty safe bet.