Subscription Box Reviews by the Sachs Research Team
June 16, 2014
The Subscription Box Model is the latest consumer trend, and it has reached our office in a big way. To share in the euphoria of the subscription box craze, the Sachs Team is here to share some firsthand experiences with different types of subscription boxes.
For Kris and Amanda, Graze and Nature Boxes are fun ways to receive unique snacks to share and talk about. Janine discovers new beauty products with Birchbox. For Julie, Blue Apron serves up all the ingredients needed for a delicious home cooked meal. Jay’s Trunk Club experience provides customized and expert advice sans stressful shopping.
A participant in one of our focus groups recently described the feeling of opening his monthly subscription box 'like Christmas morning' and we couldn't agree more. Another notion we agree on: subscription boxes are changing the way customers discover and buy products, and we think they are here to stay.
Snacks to Excite and Delight Every Palate, Starting at $20/Month
Reviewed by: Kris, Field Assistant
I first heard about Nature Box on Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast, when Bill did the worst copy-read of all time. He was supposed to promote Nature Box’s “great tasting, healthy snacks, sent right to your door.”
Instead, he ranted that “salted caramel pretzel pops” and “French toast granola” couldn’t possibly be healthy; that it is lazy to have food delivered straight to your door; and that you should just eat a banana if you are hungry. And he made double entendres about the company’s name. Nature Box promptly fired him.
But I had already signed up! And honestly, Bill wasn’t wrong—the food isn’t healthy...but it is delicious. My fiancé and I have had the subscription for three months now and see the snacks as decadent treats. Our favorite snack from this month, “South Pacific Plantains,” had 800 calories in one bag. (Which is technically five servings, but that equates to roughly two mouthfuls of chips).
But it is fun to get a new box of mystery treats every month! We try to limit ourselves to only eating a bag or so a week—leftovers are thoughtfully brought into Sachs for my coworkers. (Stop by to sample, if you’d like) Current items: Apple Pie Oat Clusters, Poppy Seed Sticks, Pistachio Power Clusters, and PB&J Granola.
Nature Box was a fun experiment, but not something I would rave about or recommend. Once we get around to it, we will probably cancel our subscription. And just have carrots and celery sticks on hand for snacking instead.
Beauty Product Samples Delivered to You for $10 a Month
Reviewed by: Janine, Client Experience Manager
A colleague of mine referred me to Birchbox this past November and I have been a monthly subscriber ever since. Anyone who knows me knows that I am quite the fashion and beauty enthusiast.
I will admit I secretly get a bit too excited when staying at a luxury hotel knowing I will get to score the bathroom samples. I am also not ashamed to say that there is an unexplainable feeling I get when stepping through the doors at Sephora. My point is that Birchbox ‘had me at subscribe’. There is such an element of surprise when I see that package. It’s like getting a present once a month!
For ten dollars a month Birchbox contents range from gourmet teas to fragrances,
allowing me to stay on top of the latest and greatest trends.
Each item is tailored specifically to an individualized profile I created when setting up my Birchbox account. I have purchased several full sized products that were all brands I was not familiar with prior to becoming a Birchbox subscriber.
Back in February I received a box that contained an empty sample. I addressed this issue in an email to the customer service team and they shipped out a new box the same week. Their efficiency and willingness to truly satisfy their customer was enough for me to stay loyal and continue to subscribe.
Delicious Convenience Served Up for $10 Per Person Per Meal
Reviewed by: Julie, Director, Research and Consulting
After drooling over Instagrams of delectable homemade dinners, I discovered several friends were using Blue Apron, a weekly service that delivers pre-portioned fresh ingredients for three healthy and delicious meals. As a curious eater who lacks time and cooking confidence, this seemed like the golden ticket to becoming an Iron Chef, so I eagerly signed up!
Athough the site itself was user-friendly enough, scheduling the delivery was my first hurdle. Since I can’t receive packages at home (and I travel frequently), the limited offerings of days/times, coupled with my office’s hours overlapping with a day I knew I’d be able to lug everything home, proved to be challenging. I also needed to set aside time to prepare (and eat!) my meals—tricky when juggling a busy schedule, yet aware my ingredients would have a short lifespan.
When my box arrived, I enthusiastically opened to find clearly labeled bags of perfectly portioned fresh foods accompanied by appetizing recipes—Yum! I soon embarked on my first endeavor, green chile enchiladas. Upon scanning the recipe, I realized a critical component was missing—the timeframe for the entire cooking process.
I budgeted an hour, but after 50 minutes of rushed mincing and roasting, I wound up on my floor chopping vegetables because my oven had oversmoked (due to my negligence from rushed multitasking), yet I was determined to finish. It was basically a scene out of GIRLS.
I didn’t enjoy the fruits of my labor until that night, since my 90-minute cooking session warranted only enough time to pull the enchiladas out of the oven before rushing off to an event. They were tasty, however.
Chaos aside, I appreciated Blue Apron’s services, and would be open to trying again if they offered smaller portions, cheaper options, and a more flexible delivery schedule. As for user experience—always provide (non-Iron) chefs with a timeframe. Always.
Personally Handpicked Men's Clothes Shipped For Free: Pay for the Clothes You Want to Keep
Reviewed by: Jay, Executive Director, Research Operations
While I try to keep my personal style up-to-date, I loathe the process of shopping. Too many options, too little time.
Historically, my shopping trips to retail stores have consisted of locating a few well-dressed mannequins wearing the latest outfits for the season, asking an associate to find my sizes and then paying for my merch. You can imagine my delight when I saw a Trunk Club ad on Facebook.
I logged into Trunkclub.com and created my account which included taking a brief survey to list my likes and dislikes. A day later I received an email from my assigned stylist, Shelley. Shelley asked me to call her to get a better sense of my needs. I learned that the trunks can be customized to include work attire, everyday wear, or a combination of both.
A week later my trunk arrived with $1,500.00 worth of clothing (2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts and shoes). Although Shelley picked out several great items, most of the sizes/cuts did not suit me. I ended up keeping a pair of jeans and the shoes, neither of which I would have picked myself. While the service is fantastic, the price points are too high to use on a regular basis.
I’ll continue using Trunk Club 1-2x/year with hope of discovering new items I wouldn’t normally pick out myself.
Perfectly Proportioned Snacks for $6 a Box
Reviewed by: Amanda, Lead Recruiter
I signed up for Graze.com about two months ago after seeing a TV commercial touting a free trial box when signing up. I have enjoyed receiving the boxes and sending them to friends as a nice surprise.
The boxes typically contain dried fruits and nuts. The portions are large enough to share and are tasty. Sometimes I notice a high salt and sugar content, but I appreciate that Graze offers low calorie options as well. Oftentimes there are different snacks that put a twist on the more calorie heavy foods like Hot Cross Buns. Their version is 'Hot Cross Yum' which consists of honey almonds, orange infused raisins, and sponge cookie pieces.
I also love the way the boxes are packed. They are just the right size for snacking and the company recommends reusing the square snack containers for projects like growing a mini garden, which I think is fun. I will have to try it soon.
You don’t really get a chance to pick exactly what you want in the box each time you order but you do get to rate each flavor after you try it. Their ratings system is fun too--you can Trash, Try, Like or Love an item on the website.
I like Graze.com as a little something to receive and send to friends.
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What is your favorite subscription box service? Add your comment below. Thanks!