Beauty and cosmetics megabrand Sephora is entering the subscription beauty box business, competing with established players such as Birchbox in offering convenient product discovery platforms to beauty fans.
Costing a reasonable $10 and featuring a theme (such as ‘Uncovering the Essentials’), the Play! By Sephora monthly delivery box will introduce five deluxe-sized prestige products as well as samples, application tips and a Play! Pass for one-on-one tutorials in Sephora stores. A themed Spotify playlist will also enrich the experience of product discovery.
The first box will launch with limited distribution in a few top US cities such as Boston in September 2015 before rolling out nationwide in 2016. It will include the Sephora Collection’s Rouge Infusion Lip Stain in Peony, Marc Jacobs’ Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in Blacquer, Ole Henriksen’s Sheer Transformation Face Crème, Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil, and Glamglow Supercleanse facial cleanser.
Such ventures are disrupting the process of beauty product discovery, allowing consumers to access and try new items ultra-conveniently. For more, see Rethinking Beauty: Fast Consumption. The sample boxes also help to establish a fan base for specific products, giving them cult status and fuelling sales. Benefit’s They’re Real mascara and Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser are bestsellers on competitor Birchbox, with consumers returning to the site to buy full-sized versions of their introductory samples.
The subscription beauty box business is a strong market. Birchbox (which also charges $10 for its monthly delivery service) has grown exponentially in the five years since it launched with $71.9m in funding. It’s now the leading monthly beauty delivery service in the US and UK.
In the US, similar service Memebox introduces consumers to the Korean beauty routine, which, with thousands of products launching each month and its rigorous 12+ steps, can be daunting to Western consumers. For more, see our recent report The Korean Beauty Boom.