Until relatively recently, the term “subscription box” brought to mind those “Cheese of the Month” clubs that sent a brick of Brie or bleu to your doorstep once a month for a year. But since 2011, the model has evolved well beyond cheese into more than 3,500 possibilities.
Subscription boxes, which send subscribers a box of curated or customized items on a regular basis, typically every month or quarter, now make up 55% of the $2.6 billion subscription service industry. And while some simply substitute the “Cheese of the Month” model with a different product category, many more are more curated for specific interests, like travel or grooming, or values, like ethical shopping.
CAUSEBOX, which launched in 2014, has proven instructional for how the subscriber box model can be successful, as well as how B corporations and other impact enterprises can gain a market foothold using it as a vehicle.
Though not the only subscription box with a sustainable bent — greenUp, GlobeIn, Home Detox, and Earthlove are among the others — CAUSEBOX sets itself apart with ethical, aesthetically pleasing and limited edition products. The contents of its boxes are typically versions of lifestyle and personal care products that its millennial women consumer base may already be familiar with, but from companies that prioritize people and planet.
Every three months, CAUSEBOX sends a box containing six to eight ethically and sustainably-sourced items to its subscribers, along with Good News, its print and digital magazine that highlights the artisans, artists and makers responsible for each CAUSEBOX’s contents.
A certified B corporation, CAUSEBOX has woven elements of the three core subscriber box business models into its market approach:
It’s more than a box.
Though CAUSEBOX’s marketing does tout the bargain — subscribers pay about $50 per quarter for a box that contains items valued at more than $200 — it engages subscribers beyond the box through social media and its Good News magazine. CAUSEBOX’s Instagram account regularly hosts unboxing reveals of its design-centric products, which already look filter-ready, in addition to Q&As with the makers and companies included. This fall, CAUSEBOX launched an official forum on Facebook, along with the CAUSEBOX Marketplace, which enables CAUSEBOX members to shop between boxes and save up to 70% off retail prices. It gives current subscribers fresh ways to interact with the brand, as well as adds an additional revenue driver for the company.
It’s a platform for ethical artisans and companies.
From the box itself, elevated by exterior artwork designed by a different artist each quarter, to the seasonally-curated contents, CAUSEBOX makes a point of highlighting small artists and artisans whose work may not be widely known or available.
My Fall 2019 box, which I received in early October, included one familiar brand — a skin serum by green apothecary Malin+Goetz — but the other products were from lesser-known makers: an artisan-made coconut wax candle, a weekender bag from B corporation Known Supply and a Fair Trade-designed necklace by Nashelle, which donates meals via Feeding America for each item sold.
It’s a clear and clean alternative.
Transitioning to sustainable goods is a shift in mindset that requires significant consumer education. Consumers may not necessarily be thinking about sustainability when shopping for travel accessories, home decor or jewelry, even when more responsible alternatives may be available at or near the same price range. CAUSEBOX has smartly integrated the “tester” model into their strategy by introducing subscribers to ethical companies with full-sized products.
Originally pioneered by Birchbox, which uses sample-size beauty products to entice subscribers to pay for the full-priced ones on their website, CAUSEBOX encourages continued sustainable buying habits by creating brand recognition for mission-driven companies.
As the subscriber box trend and the move towards sustainability coincide, companies like CAUSEBOX are well-positioned to grow market demand for products from B corporations that sustain and empower artisans.