Not long ago, our office of predominantly women was all abuzz about Le Tote. Everyone was suddenly dressing fancier and completely addicted to this online shopping experience. Here’s the gist: You sign up for a monthly subscription, create your personal style profile, browse their clothes and add favorites to your virtual “closet.” Within a few days, a tote shows up at your front door with new, pretty clothes that you can wear in real life – actually wear, not just try on – then when you’re done with it, you put it back in the tote and return it. If you looked particularly amazing in one outfit and decide that you absolutely can’t live without it, no big deal! You can keep it, and your credit card will be charged. Genius.
Companies like Le Tote and other subscription-based brands are exploding on the market these days, and they are finding their perfect selling platform with women. These subscription-based brands pull at the heartstrings (and purse-strings) of women and create a unique shopping experience that you just can’t find in stores. And now, there are subscription brands that can cater to every aspect of our lives – fashion, food, fitness, personal care, home care, kids and even pets (Bark Box, anyone?).
So, what is it about these brands that get the ladies so excited? Subscription brands started with their customers and built their platform on satisfying some key emotional, social or physical need of their audience. It’s a lesson that any type of business can learn – identify your audience and solve their problems!
- It’s a membership – a secret club, if you will. Even though it’s online-based, there’s still the excitement of finding out when someone else subscribes to the same box as you. You compare your goodies, tell only your closest friends your secret about that slammin’ dress you’re wearing and wouldn’t dream of telling anyone uncool about it.
- The personal shopping experience – choosing your style profile and getting items recommended to you. It’s like having a personal shopper. They finally “get” you!
- More convenient than the mall – no parking, no hassling with bags and no crowds. What could be better?
- Paramount customer service, if you need it. These businesses thrive on a good experience, and they know that they will quickly be on the chopping block and publicly shamed if anything goes wrong. It’s in their best interest to keep good customer service habits.
- Fancy packaging makes the delivery an inviting experience.
- No hassle shipping & returns process. Just drop it in the mail.
- A way to try new products – we are being advertised to by the brands that include their products in the boxes, and we don’t even know it. Or we don’t care because we get a lovely little sample to try out for a month.
- Women today are encouraged to indulge on themselves from time to time. The monthly subscription costs are generally between $10 and $50 per month – it’s easier to swallow than a $200 trip to the spa.
- They are catering to the new breed of ladies on the go. We are too busy to visit endless stores or be stuck in traffic. But we have plenty of time to share, insta, tweet, pin or snap every moment of our lives. It blends our busy lifestyle with the element of social media.
- It’s the perfect, quick gift solution – the holidays just around the corner, and these brands are pushing gift subscriptions as the easy and personal way to treat your friends and family.
Not only have these brands structured their services to satisfy the customer’s needs, but they are using the correct avenues to reach them with advertising.
Brands are leveraging the social networks where their ideal customers are congregating, and they’re delivering content that doesn’t feel like a spoon-fed “BUY ME!!” ad. The BirchBox Instagram is more like flipping through your favorite magazine rather than swimming in a pool of sales posts. It’s relevant content that engages with the audience and helps form a relationship between the brand and the consumer.
However, this doesn’t mean that these brands are ignoring more traditional advertising methods – ads for these subscription brands are popping up in our newsfeeds more often than “The Latest 11 Things” Buzzfeed click-bait. You hear about them during a break in your Spotify playlist and see their commercials during your weekly Hulu binge-fest. Even their avenues for traditional advertising messages speak directly to the nature of their audience and the social world we live in.
Word of mouth referrals are also set in place and encouraged. As women, we regard the personal experiences of our close friends and family (and even the online review of a total stranger) higher than almost any advertising message thrown our way. Many subscription brands offer some incentive for referrals, and most encourage you to review your products. Online fashion rental company Rent the Runway encourages you to post a photo of yourself wearing a rental garment and include honest feedback on the fit so other women will know how to order in the future.
This study on a somewhat new avenue for commerce is really just a lesson we should all take into consideration when selling our own products or services today – know your customer intimately, understand their needs and give them a revolutionary way to address those needs, all while making sure to spread the word!