Subscribed to sample; my digital experiment

Okay, so it’s confession time. I’m a little bit addicted to YouTube.

And it’s through watching different YouTube channels online that I’ve discovered the magic of subscription boxes.

What are they? They’re like a monthly gift you give yourself (of samples).

I’ve watched many a YouTube video where vloggers review hauls from their various subscriptions.

I have to say, it made me a little jealous.

Most of the boxes I’ve seen opened have been for the US market.

BUT, one that I did stumble across in Australia is Bellabox, a beauty subscription box.

Bellabox website

So how does it work exactly?


Being the ever curious woman that I am, I decided to pay the $15 and sign up for my first box.

And the other day… it arrived!


I love this idea. I mean, who doesn’t love the feeling of receiving a gift in the mail (even if it’s from yourself)?

It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s not expensive, and you can easily cancel it if you want.

Sampling has long been a savvy marketer’s strategy when introducing new products or encouraging trial, but never has the consumer had so much power over the targeting.

This is why more brands should be stepping their toes into the subscription box sample pool:

  1. It’s a great way to encourage trial for new products
  2. It’s targeting people who are engaged with the category (beauty in this case)
  3. It lets the products speak for themselves

Personally I think there’s big potential for subscription boxes in Australia. It is a great way for brands to get products into the hands of consumers who are more likely to be engaged with the brand.

NiveaMy favourite product from the August box would have to be the Nivea Pure & Natural Moisturising Day Cream. I love the feeling of it (very soothing) and it leaves my skin so supple. I’ll definitely have to buy some more.

Looking forward to what next month’s box brings!

Let me know in the comments –

  • Would you be interested in subscribing to a monthly sampling service?
  • What kind of products would you be interested in trying out?
  • Do you see any challenges with implementing this kind of subscription service in the Australian market?

Until next time,

N. Apple_bitten.svga


34 responses to “Subscribed to sample; my digital experiment

  1. I think this is a great idea, so long as the product samples are relevant and are of interest to the subscriber. The subscriber still has to feel like they’re getting value – there’s no value in paying $15 a month for products that you are not interested in buying, at least not past the first few months. I also wonder whether after the first few boxes the novelty wears off and you stop being interested. Or if you don’t buy the Nivea moisturiser, for example, because you know that you’re probably going to get another moisturiser in next month’s pack. Again it seems like moderation is key.

    • That’s very true, hopefully they’re changing it up enough to make sure that there’s something interesting every month. I guess for now I can’t really say about the novelty – I’ll have to get back to you in a few months πŸ™‚

    • Oh really? That would be annoying – I’ve actually posted about brands who email spam! So far haven’t been spammed by Bellabox, something that could make it more challenging for them though (the balance between relevance and annoyance)

  2. It’s quite exciting to create awareness in such way and this is kind of like a surprise box, you don’t know what will you get.
    If there was subscription like this for video games maybe I’d like to be a member.
    I think the challenge will be creating awareness for websites like bellabox,

    • That’s a great idea, the only one I’ve seen for men does grooming products. Maybe you could start the gaming box – just have to make sure X-box doesn’t have any issues with the name πŸ™‚

    • Exactly πŸ™‚ great way to overcome the barrier of trial in purchasing a new product. There aren’t that many subscription services in the Australian market right now – great time to capitalise πŸ™‚

  3. I feel this kind of strategy is quite dangerous. What if people sign up so that they will get that 6 different products every month for only $15, and never actually bought the product from the website? =?

    • Well that is always a risk. But for Bellabox it works perfectly. There are quite a few beauty products that people are unwilling to risk buying because its expensive – but if they try it and like it they’re more likely to buy. It’s not a guarantee – but it is a good way to get people to interact with your products and brand

  4. I need one of these! Now! I have seen the beauty gurus with them but glad to seen an Australian equivalent! Love it! P.s. sorry i’m so late getting the chance to finally check out your blog! It’s great πŸ™‚

    • Don’t be sorry, I’m glad you’re here πŸ™‚ I know!! There aren’t as many over here as there are in the US yet, but I love the idea of them. It’s only $15 a month, my mascara costs me more than that! πŸ™‚

  5. So for me, it would not pay $15 per month to sample a product. I think a return and refund policy work best for me. It is something like sampling except I get to play with it for around 14 days and return to them if I am not satisfied.
    This concept from Apple is awesome. For example, I get to play with a macbook for 14 days and after that I can get a full refund (take care of it as it has to be return undamage). So I will love this idea more.

    • That’s fair enough Mike, I wouldn’t exactly call you the target market for this product. I agree – I wouldn’t pay that much to sample just one product. The box actually comes with 6 products and a monthly extra. Usually at least one will be the full size of the product. $15 on beauty products is not actually expensive – my mascara costs me $19. It’s all about the perceived value though πŸ™‚

  6. i think its a pretty great concept in letting users try the product and make an association before engaging further with purchasing it. Like others say, the samples need to be of equal value so that you don’t feel like you’re getting ripped off for that $15. Is there a range of products that you can select to try each month or is there no user customization?

    • Couldn’t agree more – if consumers don’t think they’re getting some value from it they’re not going to want to use it. No user customisation – usually for each month they’ll have a big range of products and then put together different combinations into the 6 samples + gift boxes. Though that could be a great idea for a sample subscription service πŸ™‚

  7. The idea of it seems really exciting and intriguing, but I would be worried that I would get something crappy. The first box I received would have to exceed my expectations immensely for me to keep my subscription going and I would probably expect the quality to stay at an increasingly high level. On top of that, I would always be comparing the prices I see in-store to see whether I’m getting value for money. I think it’s really about building up initial trust and dispelling any concerns.

    • Really good point, you would definitely need them to keep you satisfied with what they’re showing you. Such a good point about the value – I guess that’s probably the key determinant isn’t it. If you love the stuff you’re getting each month, then you’re getting value. I think they’re trying to reduce the risk of being ‘locked in’ for consumers by having the ability to opt out at any time. Very good points though – the quality has to be good long-term πŸ™‚

  8. OMG, presents from the internet! Who wouldn’t want that? I love the idea of a monthly subscription service, but you would need to feel you were getting the value in the samples each month. The only thing preventing more of these popping up in Australia, I feel, is the ridiculously high costs of snail mail… Both the UK and US are more attractive markets for this simply because the costs of running the service are much lower.

    • That’s a really good point Kyp, we do have pretty unique distribution challenges in the Australian market. I agree, as long as you perceive that you’re getting value then you have no reason not to stay subscribed. I think that’s why they’ll include at least one item in its full size – makes it seem as if then you’re getting it all for the right price πŸ™‚

  9. I interned for a company that uses Bellabox! Great concept :). I’m just wondering if they only put products that target the same types of people into one box or what? And can you request to get certain types of brands? If the answer to both of those questions is no then, although it encourages trial by customers you normally wouldn’t reach, perhaps it’s a time waster if they wouldn’t want to use your brand anyway.

    • I know that they have multiple products for each month and put them into different combinations – so you never can predict what you’re getting – but they don’t have style segmentations. I think they don’t let people choose brands on purpose to encourage them to try new ones. There are definitely more opportunities for segmentation with the boxes though – currently they just have the original, a men’s box and a baby box πŸ™‚

    • In terms of customisation, they do use your user profile answers to determine what types of products to include in your box, to try to match the person to the products somewhat πŸ™‚

  10. I could this working for food products too, trying out different flavors or different products. Something that expires and you need to buy more. For example, it may not work for a clothing shop…because once you have the T-shirt or dress there’s no need to buy more. But if the aim is to get brand awareness or get favourable attitudes, then again, a “welcome box” rather than subscription box from clothing manufacturers could work really well! However, the problem with subscription boxes is I’m pretty sure the novelty of it would run out very quickly. The other issue too is to make sure you have sample sizes, and that may be expensive to manufacture on a small scale? I’m not sure

    • Yes! A food box would be great. I’m imagining some kind of ecologically sustainable assortment or organic food brands that could work really well. The idea of a welcome box is also pretty cool, though clothing also faces the issues of fit and style. I’m not sure either – I think it would depend how you wanted the samples to look – some are more expensive than others. Though I’d venture a guess that it’d be considerably less than a TVC πŸ™‚

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