Subscription boxes might have looked like a fleeting fad a few years ago, but the trend is shaping up to be here to stay. In 2018, Fast Company reported that there were 3,500 subscription box services as of October of that year — up 40% from the previous year. The year 2020 was a massive year for boxes as the pandemic struck. Subscription services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh and others specializing in the food and beverage space saw their sales skyrocket when folks were forced to stay indoors. Now, the subscription box industry brings in around $15 billion.
Consumers, either curious about exploring subscription box companies or considering adding another program to their current lineup, might find themselves easily overwhelmed. Deciding on a service can be challenging if only because there are so many to choose from — each with its own unique angle. When it comes to choosing a new subscription box, Chris George, co-founder of the Subscription Trade Association (SUBTA), recommends looking for boxes that give you “three to four times the value of what you pay for the subscription, along with the amazing feeling of surprise and delight.”
Cost: $49.99 for seasonal (paying $49.99 every three months), with a delivery of one box per season; or annual, paying $179.99 upfront for four boxes delivered seasonally.
What you’re paying for: A customized range of beauty, wellness, fashion and fitness items worth a total $300-plus in retail value. You receive a seasonal box four times per year. Reviewers are pleased that you get full-sized products. There’s absolutely no question that you’re getting much more than what you would have paid if buying each item off the shelf.
Who will love it: Self-care junkies, fashionistas, beauty lovers and fitness addicts.
What’s the best part: Annual subscribers can customize their whole box, while quarterly subscribers get to customize five out of eight items. You’re also guaranteed between six to eight full-sized items.
Cost: Beauty subscriptions start at $15 per month (or $13 per month on the annual plan) while men’s grooming boxes start at $10 per month.
What you’re paying for: In a box, you get five handpicked deluxe samples from beauty and skincare brands.
Who will love it: Self-care junkies, beauty lovers and significant others.
What’s the best part: Birchbox’s Skin Lab enables you to get products sent to you that are based on your skin type and needs.
3. The Crafter’s Box
Cost: Starts at $65 per box.
What you’re paying for: Each month, you receive a new crafting project, complete with all the materials and digital resources you need to finish it.
Who will love it: Crafters, DIYers, bakers.
What’s the best part: Recipients can participate in live classes online. There’s also a wide variety of types of crafts that subscribers will get to complete.
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4. Breo Box
Cost: Boxes cost $159 per quarter or $579 per year.
What you’re paying for: Each box contains new tech gadgets that can be valued at up to $300.
Who will love it: Tech junkies.
What’s the best part: Customers say the quality and curation of this box makes it feel like it’s Christmas every time the box comes.
Cost: Pricing gets complicated with meal subscription services because so much depends on how many people you’re planning to feed and how often. HelloFresh starts at $7.24 a serving.
What you’re paying for: For roughly $60 a week, you’ll get two or three recipes (these depend on your dietary wants) and ingredients.
Who will love it: People who don’t mind cooking but don’t want to deal with grocery shopping or recipe research.
What’s the best part: Most meals only take 30 minutes to cook.
Cost: Glam Bags start at $13 per month.
What you’re paying for: Each bag comes with five deluxe beauty samples that range from skincare to makeup to nail care.
Who will love it: Beauty lovers, self-care junkies.
What’s the best part: Members get discounts on beauty items when they shop through the IPSY site.
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Cost: $22 a month if you commit to a year, $25 a month for six months and $35 a month on a monthly basis.
What you’re paying for: $40-plus worth of dog toys, treats and chews
Who will love it: Dog lovers and, of course, dogs.
What’s the best part: Each box has a theme that ranges from holiday to pop culture.
Cost: Starts at $4.99 a meal.
What you’re paying for: Customizable (including vegetarian) meals for two to four people delivered to your door.
Who will love it: People who don’t love cooking, vegetarians.
What’s the best part: It’s one of the most affordable meal boxes on the market.
Cost: $15.95 a month, first month is $7.97 for new subscribers.
What you’re paying for: A 30-day supply or 140 sprays of fragrance shipped monthly.
Who it’s for: Perfume fans and those missing in-store cologne samples in department stores.
What’s the best part: With many beauty counters limiting access to samples due to COVID-19, this lets you try designer perfume at home for a low price based on a quiz that susses out your fragrance preferences.
Cost: Starts at $27 per kit.
What you’re paying for: Reusable cleaning bottles and sustainable cleaning ingredients and formulas.
Who it’s for: Environmentalists, clean freaks.
What’s the best part: You’ll never have to remember to buy cleaning products at the store again because Blueland will send them to you on a customized schedule.
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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article.
Photo Disclaimer: Please note photos are for representational purposes only.