Why do so many sign up for subscription boxes?


By Cassandra Turley

Ohio is a unique state in that its most popular subscription boxes cover a wide variety of subjects and interests – unlike in states like North Dakota (where doggy subscription boxes are all the rage) or Oklahoma (where shaving supplies are in the most hotly awaited subscription boxes). Officially, the most sold subscription box in Ohio is Watch Gang (a monthly watch club), but the difference between sales for this and other boxes isn’t as marked as it is in other parts of America. Ohio, it can be said, is hooked on subscriptions as a general rule, much as the rest of the U.S. is. Why the big boom in this hobby, and are subscriptions actually worth it?

The top reasons for subscription

An in-depth survey on the subscription industry was recently carried out by McKinsey & Company. The results, published in a report called Thinking Inside the Subscription Box: New Research on E-Commerce Consumers, have shown that there are three top reasons why the market has grown by over 100 percent year-on-year over the past five years. They are: an interest in ‘trying something new,’ following a recommendation by friends or family, and financial incentives. The latter in particular arises through the significant cost savings of many subscription boxes. Companies stocking large quantities are able to entice customers with better prices than small retail shops selling individual items.

Who is subscribing, and for what?

Women account for 60 percent of subscriptions, though men are more likely to have three or more subscriptions. There are three general types of subscriptions: replenishment (e.g. vitamins, pet food, shaving supplies), curation (these are based on a theme — e.g. Italian smoked goods, or Gothic fashion), and access (these allow subscribers to access specific goods after signing up for membership). Some of the most popular subscriptions in the U.S. include Amazon Subscribe & Save, Ipsy, and Dollar Shave Club.

Are subscriptions worth it?

For many subscribers, subscription boxes are indeed worth the small amount they pay every month. Boxes may cost as little as $10, though many cost around $25 and other (luxury) boxes can cost $50 or more, but subscribers are always told exactly how much the retail value of what they are buying into is. Having said that, different companies do have varied reputations because the quality of curation is key; subscribers are in essence relying on companies to deliver up-to-date, popular items that aren’t too far fetched or different from their specific tastes. The good news is that well reputed, savvy subscription companies allow members to express their desires in a quite detailed manner. Take the case of a make-up subscription box; subscribers will be asked pertinent questions, such as the warmth or coolness of their skin tone, their color and texture preference, and the general looks they favor.

Ohio residents — much like those in the rest of America — like the surprise element, but they also enjoy getting good value for money. Subscription boxes are one way to achieve this, but they can also help ensure a household’s stock of everything from pet food to skincare supplies is up-to-date. Subscriptions also make a popular present: with so many boxes and memberships available, it’s easy to match at least a dozen boxes to every special person in your life.

Cassandra Turley is an experienced chef who provides a personalized service to clients across her hometown of Tucson, Ariz. When not testing and trialling new food and drink combos, she loves to read and write about her passion as much as possible, too.

Cassandra Turley is an experienced chef who provides a personalized service to clients across her hometown of Tucson, Ariz. When not testing and trialling new food and drink combos, she loves to read and write about her passion as much as possible, too.