Walk into any drug or makeup store, and you're likely to find a plethora of small travel-sized versions of some of the most popular products. From fragrances to skincare, makeup to hair care, it's a great way to try a new product without having to spend a lot of money. With so many products to choose from, it can be very difficult to find ones that fit your needs and lifestyle. Enter the subscription box.

Subscription boxes have been around since the early 2000s. If you can consume it, there's probably a subscription box for it, whether it's a beauty product, clothing, shoes, or pet food. Consumers can sign up to get product samplings on a regular basis, often for a much lower price than the cost of one product in that market. This is especially important in the beauty industry, with consumers wasting money on pricey products they may only use a few times before becoming dissatisfied. This is why the beauty subscription box industry has become so popular. Birchbox is probably one of the most popular and recognizable subscription boxes around. Read on to find out more about the company and how much it costs.

Key Takeaways

  • Birchbox is a subscription service that provides beauty product samples delivered each month to members' homes.
  • Women and men can choose from three different membership options.
  • The company tailors boxes to match the preferences, needs, and styles of its subscribers.

Birchbox: An Overview

Birchbox was established in 2010 by two Harvard Business School graduates. The company initially focused on women and introduced a subscription service for men in 2012. Each Birchbox subscription box is a curated collection of five product samples ranging from makeup, haircare, skincare and nail care, which is delivered each month to the homes of subscribers. Since its creation, Birchbox has built a strong following. The company boasts more than one million subscribers and has partnerships with brands like MAC, Cartier, and Estée Lauder.

The company is still private. It raised $1.4 million in seed capital in 2010 and $60 million in another round of funding in 2014. This boosted the value of the company to $485 million at the time.

Membership and Fees

One of the most attractive features of Birchbox is its affordability. There are three different membership options for women which includes five different curated samples:

  • Monthly Plan: There is no commitment to this plan and subscribers can cancel at any time. The cost is $15 each month.
  • Six-Month Plan: For $14 a month, subscribers commit to a six-month minimum. The fee is charged monthly.
  • 12-Month Plan: Subscribers must commit to 12 months and are billed $13 every month or can choose to pay $156 upfront. Birchbox sweetens the pot by charging only $1 for the first box.

The men's subscription works a little differently, which also comes with five curated samples:

  • Monthly Plan: Subscribers are charged $10 each month with the option to cancel at any time.
  • Six-Month Plan: For $60, subscribers are locked into a six-month commitment which automatically renews at the end of the period.
  • 12-Month Plan: This plan costs $110 and is rebilled every 12 months.

Each plan comes with free shipping.

To maximize the value of paying for the subscription, Birchbox tailors its boxes to match the preferences, needs, and styles of its subscribers. The company provides a questionnaire, allowing for changes. This means if a subscriber receives products they don't like, they can make modifications. Incorporating each subscriber's individual preferences greatly minimizes the chances of wasted products or a dissatisfied client base. They can also buy full-sized samples and earn loyalty points for each purchase.

Birchbox's Top Competitors

Birchbox has its fair share of competitors. While most of its primary competitors are subscription box companies, they span across multiple industries. For instance, Citrus Lane for baby goodsNatureBox for healthy foods, and JustFab for shoes and bags. Birchbox and other similar beauty box subscriptions such as the Ipsy Glam Bag and Play! by Sephora have been staking their claims in the industry, interrupting revenue for big-name companies such as Amazon and Macy's.

Is It Worth It?

While the price is seemingly affordable, potential subscribers have to ask themselves if becoming a subscriber is a good financial decision or if the idea of Birchbox is too good to be true.

Birchbox appears to be worth the money spent from a purely financial standpoint.

From a purely financial standpoint, Birchbox appears to be worth the money spent. Here's a taste of what Birchbox has offered in the past, along with prices of the full-size version of each item and the value of each sample when divided using the respective amounts.

Samples 1 and 2

Beautiful Nutrition Grapefruit Detox Shine Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

  • Sample size: 2 ounces each
  • Full size and cost: 13.3 fluid ounces each at $12 per sample
  • Sample value: $1.80 each or $3.60 for the pair

Sample 3

Cargo Swimmables Shadow Stick in Coral Reef

  • Sample size: This sample was actually provided in its full-size version
  • Full size and cost: Sold in a trio for $22 or approximately $7.33 each
  • Sample value: $7.33

Sample 4

Raw Spirit Fragrances in Bijou Vert

  • Sample size: 1 milliliter or 0.03 fluid ounces
  • Full size and cost: 30 milliliters at $90 each
  • Sample value: $3

Sample 5

Supergoop! Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream

  • Sample size: 2 milliliters or 0.07 fluid ounces
  • Full size and cost: 0.5 fluid ounces at $45 each
  • Sample value: $6.30

Total Value of Samples: $20.23

Taking both the full value of the samples plus the $10 fee into account, the subscriber is technically not losing any money, even if they only like 50% of the samples in the box.