Subscription boxes are one of the latest consumer trends. They vary in price point and products, so it’s important to know how to shop for subscription boxes.
How To Shop for Subscription Boxes
Like any consumer product, you’ve got to ask questions. You need to understand what you are buying. You need to determine whether it’s worth the price. Subscription boxes are no exception.
What is a subscription box?
A subscription box is a curated, themed goodie box you receive once per month. Themes range from kids to beauty to pets, food or clothes. You pay a fixed price for that curated box of products.
Subscription boxes generally fill one of two needs:
- Replenishment. You receive a fresh supply of products you use all. the. time. They are delivered to your doorstop for a fixed price that can beat what you’d pay elsewhere.
- Surprise. These boxes are for fun, although most boxes also serve a very practical need.
Let’s be clear: you don’t select the individual products in your box. You trust the company’s discretion. (Some subscription boxes let you select a profile or preferred products so your monthly goodies are tailored to your tastes.)
Are subscription boxes worth the money?
It depends. Generally, subscription boxes claim to provide an excellent value by sending you products worth much more than the price you paid. Knowing that, you could save money by purchasing the right subscription box service.
Imagine you are a high-end nail polish hound, then getting a Julep Maven box might make sense. You pay $19.99 per month, but receive $40+ in high-end, chemical-free nail polish and nail care products. But, here’s the kicker: you’ll have to stop buying bottles at the store in order to realize the savings.
Imagine you are a high-end nail polish hound. However, a subscription box (or any nail polish, for that matter) is an expense that cuts into your priorities or ends up on a credit card that you can’t pay in full. Then, skip it. Take your eye off the marketing language about how much money you’re saving. Focus your eyes, instead, on how much you are spending.
PS – You will be sent new products that you may not have chosen for yourself. If you’re adventurous, then that’s awesome. If you’re committed to the brands you already use, then a subscription box probably isn’t for you.
Can I choose the contents of this month’s box?
No. You receive discounts on the products because the subscription box service buys in bulk for all their customers. Generally, you don’t even get to see the contents before the box arrives on your doorstop, let alone choose the products. (Some subscription services will send you a preview email before they ship your box. Some even give you 1 or 2 chances per year to opt out of a box that isn’t your style. Find one whose approach fits you.)
How long is a subscription?
You choose the duration. Most subscriptions have 3, 6 or 12-month options. Those limited durations means that you have choices other than sign-up-once-and-you’re-signed-up-until-you-cancel-type plans. (Those sign-up-once-get-boxes-forever plans are often called monthly plans; a 1-month plan should get you one single box)
I recommend choosing the shortest duration until you’re confident that the box is a really good fit for you and really good value for you.
How do I cancel a subscription?
Cancellation processes differ by company. Monthly plans (the on-going ones) typically can be cancelled with appropriate notice and an email or phone call. The multi-month plans, like 3-month or 12-month subscriptions, are often prepaid so there may not be a cancellation option. Understand the cancellation process before you buy.
Can I give a subscription as a gift?
Absolutely yes. I think giving a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription box to your parents, friend or co-worker is incredibly thoughtful. (Truth: I’m openly biased toward gifts that keep giving throughout the year. I. love. them.)
Can you imagine how touched a co-worker would be to get a monthly subscription box as they recover from a long-term illness? Or, an older aunt or grandmother who doesn’t get many visitors? (I’ll stop. Although I can think of 15 other thoughtful examples.)
Subscription Box Services
There really is a subscription box for every interest and hobby under the sun. Here are a few to check out (from lowest cost to highest):
Dollar Shave Club – From $1/month for top-notch razor blades
Kiwi Crate – $19.95/month for kids’ crafts
Julep Maven – Free intro box, then $19.99/month for $40+ in nail polish in never-been-seen colors that are free of harsh chemicals (Use the code FREEBOX to get your free intro box; you will pay $3.99 shipping and be enrolled in a monthly on-going plan that can be cancelled at any time)
Citrus Lane – From $21/month for baby products (1 month subscriptions are available for $29) – use the coupon code TAKETEN for $10 off your first box
Madison Reed – $24.99/month for natural hair color, including a great color matching system on their website
Happy Mommy Box – $29/month for 3-4 inspirational and fun products for mom, plus something fun for the kids
What other questions do you have about subscription box services? Which subscription boxes have you tried? Did you like them or not?