Birchbox Breaks into New Markets to Compete in Subscription Commerce

4/16/12Follow @jpruth

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a new partnership with a popular television show that may be a sign of things to come. Last Wednesday, Birchbox announced it would offer subscribers a “Gossip Girl”-themed promotional package of products timed with the show’s season finale in May. The partnership puts a different spin on how brands get marketed to consumers by pairing items with the characters and drama on screen. The agreement is somewhat reminiscent of House Party working with cable channel AMC to offer products tied to the season premiere of “Mad Men.” Such matchups aim to create real-world reminders for fans long after watching shows. “It’s a way to engage a customer on a deeper level,” Beauchamp says. “You will be seeing more partnerships from us.”

Though businesses such as Birchbox help introduce brands to new potential customers, not every player in this sector is gaining traction. His Black Box, launched last year ostensibly to be the male-themed rival to Birchbox, was acquired in February by MenScience Androceuticals in Miami. MenScience distributes skin care products for men, and through the deal it picked up customers, inventory, and product contracts from His Black Box. However, MenScience said via e-mail that it does not currently plan to continue the monthly service that His Black Box once provided.

New York-based GuyHaus emerged last August to also take a stab at this sector, offering shaving products and other items for men but has since gone on hiatus and stopped taking orders. GuyHaus had no comment on its status.

Birchbox plans to stay competitive, Beauchamp says, by helping generate more demand for the products it sends to subscribers, which pleases the brands it works with. “You go from being something anonymous to being a real product [in the customer's] life,” she says. The company is working quickly to tailor its offerings for men with a balance between grooming and lifestyle, to keep them talking about the products. “There might be a hesitance to talk about an amazing pomade,” Beauchamp says, “but we could imagine them saying, ‘Aren’t these cool headphones?’ or, ‘Check out this great pocket square.’”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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