There once was a time when consumers were forced to walk into a physical store to make purchases. Hours were spent in stores and malls looking through products, perhaps testing a few, and eventually, purchasing them. But the internet has revolutionized the way we shop, making store shopping much less necessary.
With so many products within our grasp, the excitement of shopping has faded for some consumers. We can find just about anything with a quick Google or Amazon search.
So how does a company keep consumers interested in their product? How does one put new products in front of a consumer who doesn't have time to wander a store and gaze at end cap displays or huge sale signs?
One answer to this dilemma has been subscription based services.
And Birchbox has shown exactly how to boost product sales through consumer engagement with the brand and the products.
Birchbox's Subscription Based Service Success
Birchbox is a subscription sampling service which sends its subscribers samples for the low monthly cost of either $10 or $20. These samples are typically high end products, whose regular retail sizes are a bit too expensive for the average person to use without testing the product out first, or having a high recommendation. That's where Birchbox comes in.
Subscribers get a combination of items monthly, based on their individual profile. Products are literally places into the hands of a consumer and allowed to speak for themselves.
This model has been highly successful as consumers test the products out, then purchase the products they love. The products themselves are a sample size, but are, for the most part, pretty generous sampling. Some are designed to last the whole month, while others might last at least a week. Occasionally they throw in a one use mask, or something similar, in addition to the 4-5 samples promised. The size makes each sample highly worth it for the consumer, and allows enough time using the product for the consumer to, ideally, become convinced of its quality.
Consumers then go to the website, and are easily able to find the products that were shipped to them that month under their profile, and then they can choose to purchase the items that they enjoyed.
This model for trying out new products has caught on fast. Subscriptions to wine, clothing, accessories, snack foods, shoes, and so much more are all available. Each one has you build a profile and then sends you samples or full sized products to try at a reduced rate. Most then offer you the full sized item for purchase.
How Birchbox Hooks Consumers Through Online Engagement:
Birchbox has been so successful due to the online market, and the way that they have choosen to engage their audience. Not only do they have a significant presence which has created a community, they have provided many ways for consumers to feel that they are also an active part of that community.
If Birchbox isn't the pro of the social world, I don't know who is.
In the image at the top of the page you'll notice the orange card with "Pardon My Yawns". Birchbox included this card and requested that the receiver of the box (in this case, me) fill in the blank on the card and post an image of the box and card to Instagram in order to win a contest. The image at the top of this post is one I posted to Instagram and Twitter, which I then tagged Birchbox in.
This is genius. I willingly participated in their marketing strategy. They provided me with a product and asked me to share, and I did. This sparks interest and even conversations from other friends, resulting in possible new costumers for Birchbox.
Your Personal Website Account
The website allows you to log into an account and keep track of the products you love by favoriting them. It also lets you know what exactly is in the Birchbox you received so that purchasing full sized products of the same exact item is no difficulty. The user interface is easy to use and navigate, and allows you to scroll through tons of products and favorite all the ones you want.
The Point System
They definitely play the points game. Every purchase earns you points. $1 = 1 point, and the more points you earn, the closer you are to being able to redeem those points for some cool, awesome product. Whether you purchase regular, full sized products, or merely the monthly subscription, you earn points.
Their referral service offers 50 points for every friend who subscribe to a service, and during different periods they also throw in a surprise gift for your next box. This is a great way to encourage friends to try the service. And who better to convince a new customer than a friend who has used the product?
This type of service that is based on a subscription generates (at least the possibility of) ongoing revenue, as well as the opportunity for increased revenue when a consumer enjoys a product enough to purchase a larger size. The company is basically allowing a consumer to purchase their own samples. Consumers are paying to be marketed to.
If this is not a genius marketing concept, then I don't know what is.
The use of the internet allows Birchbox to capture and maintain the interest of its consumers. They are not looking for one and done costumers, instead they are looking for subscribers who are involved in their brand and ultimately become brand ambassadors to their friends. Their internet marketing ensures that there are multiple ways for consumers to become engaged in the community, and to become brand advocates.
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