Subscription Boxes

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“Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favourite things.” The lyrics of this famous song from the 1965 movie The Sound of Music seem to be inspiring a new trend of subscription boxes. If you are wondering what that is, we unbox the concept for you.

The Concept

Simply explained subscription boxes are an easy, convenient and economical way to try new things. A box of varied products is sent to you each month – these could be beauty products, food and even services.  You can sign up for the subscription by creating an account and a profile that details your preferences. “We partner directly with both beauty companies and distributors to source products for the monthly bag and pass on the savings to subscribers who get to try four or more products worth more than 2-3 times in value. Making consumers go from using sample sizes sent in the monthly bag to purchasing full-size products is an important objective. Each member can fill in a short fun quiz that tells our experts a bit about their beauty preferences and this helps us deliver products that they are most likely to love! For as low as 599/- a month our members can receive both full-size and travel-sized products worth more than thrice in value which we curate with the help of the quiz filled by our members,” says Amrita Shinde, Marketing Head, FabBag. In fact it is not just products but even services that are available as a subscription. Housejoy, a leading provider in the home services space and you can actually subscribe to services ranging from maintenance and home repairs to high quality plumbing, electrical services, home cleaning and computer repairs. They also offer specialized services in beauty and in-house bridal make-up. Niharika Jhunjhunwala, Founder/Partner, Sugarbox ecommerce Ventures LLP explains, “our novel subscription service is a theme based gift box for all those who want to pamper themselves. It brings to you an exclusive service of handpicked goodies by a team of specialized in-house stylists that is delivered to your doorstep at the end of every month. A nicely packaged surprise gift to yourself at the end of the month with full sized products across multiple categories is what you get.”

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The Specifics

Subscription boxes are intended to make life convenient too. There is a growing issue of unhealthy body mass index (BMI) among school children in Indian metro cities.  The idea of MonkeyBox stemmed from a simple idea of kids getting bored of the same lunch box every day and returning home with full lunch boxes. MonkeyBox is filling this gap as it prioritizes nutrition for kids and prepares healthy meal boxes based on menus designed by child nutritionists. “MonkeyBox delivers breakfast, lunch, and snacks for school kids of ages 3 to 18 years. The menu is designed by a team of child nutritionists and 5-star chefs and includes dishes of North Indian, South Indian, Pan Asian and Continental cuisines. They also ensure no single dish is repeated for a period of 21 days. The MonkeyBox 3-meal package is planned such that it meets up to 70% of the kid’s daily requirement of energy, protein, fat and certain micronutrients vital for children such as iron. Food diversity, major food groups, seasonality, combination of nutrients, and the child’s macro- and micro- nutrient requirements are kept in mind while planning everyday meals. Furthermore, optimal portion size is packed for a satiating meal as per the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of nutrients for each age group,” explains Sanjay Rao, Co-founder and CEO, MonkeyBox.

fabConvenience Matters

The best part is that the box is economical. “We have a team of in-house stylists and curators who first come up with a theme, and then brainstorm on ideas around the theme. The theme depends on the season, festival or could be completely random. Once the theme is decided, we decide on products that go along with it, after which we get on with designing and sourcing of the products. Customers who sign up and subscribe get a real value for money. They get goods worth 4000 or more for only Rs 1499,” says Jhunjhunwala. George V, Founder, My Gift Box explains, “we want to give people   the opportunity to try new products at home and offer more than 30+ subscription boxes every month. There are boxes for men, women, children and senior citizens. Also boxes in different categories like beauty, fashion, food and health among others.”

A Box for All

In fact there are several subscription boxes including one for pets too! PoochBox is a monthly subscription box for a pet dog where a box containing a mix of 5-7 curated products ranging from treats, toys, accessories, grooming products and even spa products. This is shipped along with training manuals, fun facts and exciting contests to keep the parents also in the game! Nikita Manchanda, PoochBox, Co-Founder says, “as a pet parent, it was getting really difficult to find products to best suit our pup. The products available in the market were either very cheap and would harm my pet more than it would do good or the good products were very exorbitantly priced. Therefore we needed some kind of package where I would not have to worry about the products I need for an overall mental, oral and physical growth of my dog. Hence the idea for PoochBox struck.” Naturally customers are thrilled. “The box was unreal and it was a treat opening the box and our dog Jobbs loved it and was enjoying all the goodies. We have seen such products for the first time,” says Shefali Poddar, a customer from Kolkata. “Each and every element of the box was carefully picked for my dog and this is the first time where the toy did not break by his jaw power,” avers Pooja Devgan another customer from Gurgaon.

Customer Feedback

The platforms usually partner with leading brands and curate the best products. Customer feedback is also paramount and based on this products are added or removed. “I came across this beauty subscription portal on Instagram. It was the basic idea of receiving different beauty products every month that fascinated me the most. But then again, I was skeptical on committing for a yearlong subscription and I did not want to judge their service just on a single month subscription. So playing safe and giving them a fair chance, I subscribed for the three-month plan. Each month receiving the bag was like receiving a present gifted by me to myself. Thoughtfully curated products, simple and hassle-free delivery process and a beautifully designed bag every month and I was sold! I am glad that I stumbled across this subscription service. It has become the reason for my monthly happiness”, says Anushka, a beauty and makeup addict and a loyal Fab Bag Subscriber from one year. Likewise, having a selection of products is a boon for many others. “Thanks to its mix of fashion, beauty, lifestyle and gourmet products, Sugarbox stands out in the sea of beauty boxes out there. This personalized monthly subscription box sends its members a box filled with their exclusive unique and fun products! I got the Summer Romance edition from them and was delighted to find a bunch of cute things in it! Kudos to their team for managing to fit so many items in the box,” says June Biswas, a subscriber to SugarBox.

Looking Ahead

The business of subscription boxes is growing and how. MonkeyBox received an undisclosed amount through pre-series A funding in July, 2017 that will be used for expansion and future marketing campaigns  “Our plans are closely aligned to this as we continue to bring in new brands to India. In the next financial year, we are well-poised to grow our current revenues by 3-4X while continuing to maintain a healthy bottom-line,” says Shinde. Jhunjhunwala adds, “we are looking to grow our subscriber base, organically. We want to reach out to more and more consumers through brand promotions, marketing activities on ground and social media engagements. We would be getting more new and upcoming brands onboard, in order to raise awareness about new products to our consumers.” Gifting yourself a monthly surprise is a novel concept and with subscription boxes expanding what they have to offer, it is time to welcome a little happiness into your life!

This story appeared in the Oct 2017 issue of Smartlife Magazine here:

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