Three years ago, two students at Harvard Business School, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, teamed up to create a service that would change the way consumers connect with the beauty industry: Birchbox. Today, Birchbox is currently embarking on a global re-branding campaign. The company is changing the look of its packaging and website and expanding its online shop.
Birchbox is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-5 beauty product samples to its subscribers for only $10 per month. Barna and Beauchamp say they created the service to help consumers cut through the clutter of the retail world to find products that really work for them.
When Barna and Beauchamp first decided to start the company, they sent cold emails to the Presidents and CEO’s of various beauty companies and asked if they would like to participate in a trial run of their new business idea while still in school at Harvard. To their surprise, many of their emails were not only answered immediately, but also mostly answered with the affirmative.
“It’s important that our customers understand that [Birchbox] is so much more than a box,” Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp said in response to a question about the goals of the rebranding, according to mashable.com. “We [now do] grooming products, lifestyle products. We really wanted our site to reflect that, that this is a way of life.”
Bloomberg Business Week says the company raised almost $12 million in venture capital in its first year with nearly no marketing campaign since people who received the boxes would spread the word virally through videos and blogs. Just since April of last year they quadrupled their subscription base after adding men’s boxes to the service and expanded their brand partners to more than 400 after acquiring their Eurpean equivalent, JolieBox, in September 2012. Beauchamp told AdWeek their company is unique against its competitors in the industry because it is more discovery-driven rather than replenishment-driven, which makes it especially effective when it comes to men’s products.
“It might be uncomfortable for a man to walk into a traditional beauty space and shop,” she said. “We can be a great solution to that.”
The company also helps brands create buzz for the products it includes in its monthly boxes. Manager of e-commerce and interactive marketing for luxury hair care company Kérastase, Danielle Rose, told AdWeek they’ve noticed the amount of viral buzz and press they’re getting through Birchbox and the online haul videos of their customers.
Approximately 50% of Birchbox’s subscribers have purchased full-sized editions of products they had sampled. Today, more than 400,000 women and men subscribe to Birchbox’s monthly sampling program. The company is rapidly growing and now employs 150 people.
Visit their website for more details: http://www.birchbox.com
Photo Credit: Renegadechicks.com (above), birchbox.com (left)