Beauty boxes have become a prosperous global trend in recent years. Birchbox got its start in the US in 2010 and went international two years later with the acquisition of the European company JolieBox. The company has since been operating in the UK, Spain, France, Belgium and the US.
Several beauty box subscription services send packages to Canadian consumers now. Though, there was no mention of plans to acquire or merge with any Canadian player in the Birchbox launch announcement.
“The success of Birchbox in Europe has allowed the company to look at expansion into new countries, connecting brands with new consumers and driving demand of products by consumers who’ve not previously had the opportunity to experience them,” explained the company in a statement to press.
“The international growth will allow Canadian beauty brands to expand both nationwide and internationally to enable customers to experience products not previously available in the U.S.”
The subscription model
The Birchbox business model is essentially e-commerce, supported by samples and consumer-facing lifestyle content. Monthly subscribers receive samples in the mail of women’s hair products, makeup, nails care, skincare, and body care items.
Online, full-size versions of the same products are available for purchase, and the company engages and educates consumers with blog and magazine content. Internationally the company currently has 800,000 subscribers.
“Our vision from day one was to revolutionize the shopping experience by creating a discovery platform that provides consumer with the content and experiences needed to make informed, value-oriented purchasing decisions,” said co-founder Katia Beauchamp last year when the brand refreshed its logo and website. The company’s other founder is Hayley Barna.
Following that business model the company has become competitive enough in the cosmetic retail sector to open a brick-and-mortar shop in SoHo, one of New York City’s well regarded shopping neighbourhoods. That 4,500 square foot shop has been operating since July.
The shop carries full-sized products from hundreds of the over 800 brands that Birchbox offers online from hair care to skin care, make-up to in-store nail services, and men’s products as well. The retail shop also has a Build-Your-Own-Birchbox section.
Birchbox Canada is getting underway with 50 brands, including some Canadian-made products. The e-commerce site offers over 600 full-size products for sale.
“Since our launch in 2010, we’ve had tens of thousands of customer inquiries regarding shipping to Canada,” says Beauchamp. “So we’re thrilled to finally bring Birchbox north of the border.”