This Vegas season I took a short break from looking at apparel lines (trust me, I did a lot of that too), to meet with Brad Lande, VP of Birchbox Men (pictured left). I always thought Birchbox was strictly a subscription-based company that sent guys a box of grooming samples each month, but after talking to Lande, I learned it is so much more.
Birchbox was founded by Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna in 2010. They launched the concept in the women’s market first, offering beauty box subscriptions featuring makeup, skincare, body and lifestyle products. Based on the success in women’s, they launched men’s in April 2012 and then home goods in November 2012.
Here’s how it works: A guy signs up for a Birchbox subscription ($20/month), and creates an online profile, answering questions so that the contents of his box are as personalized as possible. Birchbox then sends him a box of grooming samples and lifestyle products based on his profile. Each box is filled with about three grooming items and one to two lifestyle items (bow ties, pocket squares, whiskey stones, etc). [Editor’s note: Subscribers are asked to rate the contents of the box to help Birchbox better understand his likes and dislikes in order to continue to send him things that match his taste and budget.] Every sample is also available in a full-size version, available for purchase on Birchbox.com, making it not just a subscription service, but an online retailer as well. Even if a guy cancels or doesn’t renew his subscription, he can still buy products on Birchbox.com.
Lande calls Birchbox a hybrid company because it combines both marketing and retail. They have a database of over 400,000 subscribers, with ability to get a brand’s product in the hands of an interested consumer and create an opportunity for incredible exposure.
He also notes that grooming and lifestyle products are categories that a man won’t necessarily buy on his own, but will after he’s been introduced to a sample that he likes. He can then buy these products from the comfort of his computer or mobile device. In addition to e-commerce, Birchbox has a dedicated editorial/tutorial section of the website called, “The Guide.” Lande explains that men don’t talk about grooming in the same way women talk about beauty. So with online videos, editorial and tutorials he can learn about it on his own.
Retail prices for full-size goods range anywhere from $10 to $125 for grooming, and $50 to $125 for lifestyle. According to the website, some best sellers include Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes ($24 retail), Baxter of California Super Close Shave Formula ($18 retail), and Lucky Tiger Head to Tail Muscle Rub ($12 retail). Lifestyle goods include Richer Poorer socks ($12 retail), Nick Graham printed neckties ($49 retail), and MeUndies boxer briefs ($20 retail).