Box Obsession: The Remarkable Rise of Subscription Commerce

Box subscriptions. If you haven’t, you should. Just ask Instagram.

Have you noticed that subscription box services have risen in popularity in recent years? They run the gamut from beauty, to jewelry, to clothing, all the way to meal prep. Fresh razor blades? Yep. Goodies for your canine? You know it! Wine? Call me, maybe? I mean, there's a full-fledged directory, so, yeah.

A (Nearly) Flawless Business Model

Everyone knows there's no such thing as perfection, but the subscription box concept is a win-win for all parties involved. Not only do these sweet swag bags provide incredible value to subscribers, but the element of surprise makes it a true delight every time Santa Mr. Postman delivers the loot. Who doesn't want to test (and become addicted to) products in the comfort of their own home? On the other hand, the vendors who contribute the products are provided with a direct channel to reach their target consumers.

Add in social media to the mix and unbox a whole new level of opportunity (get it?). Social platforms like Instagram have become a way for these members-only companies and their contributing brands to harbor a continuous dialogue with their subscribers and gain (BIG) recognition through a thoughtful content mix. Happy customers feel naturally compelled to share their box joy, while celebrity endorsements come in handy once in a while to increase awareness and lend these bundles some credibility.

These companies are no stranger to influencer marketing: most of them have made it a central focus of their digital strategy, setting the stage for organic growth through UGC. Earned content means free distribution and more eyes on product, inevitably amounting to an increase in subscriptions. Consequently, it also translates to a rise in e-commerce sales for the participating brands. Say it with me: #WINNING!

And the Boxing Champ Is...

With boxes catering to pretty much every single need of all humans, the heaviest hitters in the ring are (surprise!) beauty boxes. Among the top contenders? Ipsy, Birchbox, FabFitFun, and POPSUGAR Must Have. While ideal for contributors of all sizes, this business concept presents small and just-launched brands with a unique opportunity to spark buzz throughout the online community.

Taking a gander at Instagram, aka the most meaningful barometer of brand success, FabFitFun takes the cake with an average weekly follower growth rate of 1.03% over the past 4 weeks, while competitors in the sector are seeing an average of 0.77%. With this in mind, we decided to take a deeper dive into their recipe for success. Are all the ingredients baked together bringing return on Instagram?

B is for Beauty Boxes.

The Recipe

  • 5 Tons of Quality Content

First and foremost, FabFitFun knows their audience quite well, which is paramount to any brand success. They created an Instagram gallery that perfectly telegraphs their image to their audience. Humor, wine, and puppies are among their most engaged-around content. We've seen how memes can drive über engagement (see what I did there?), so no surprise there.

UGC may help with exposure and follower growth, but it’s quality owned content that keeps them there.

Double tap to complete the picture! 🍷😍 #thirstythursday #vinoproblem #winenot

A photo posted by @fabfitfun on

  • 2 Handfuls of Influencers

Millennial consumers look to beauty b/vloggers for product advice. This is the world we live in now and brands must enter this space to snag market share. Instagram influencers that also run a YouTube channel tend to have engagement rates that are leaps and bounds above everyone else's, which is a big bonus for brands like FabFitFun.

Another strategy that facilitates a social media victory? Snapchat takeovers - literally hitting consumers from all angles.

The Return

FabFitFun's Instagram reach is ways above other players in this category. Their earned reach averages at 3.3M per week in the past 4 weeks, whereas competitors hovered around 1.75M per week during the same period. Hey yo, UGC!

The brand has created a community where users feel compelled to share their experiences with their box. All of that earned content mixed with sponsored posts allow them to pull in incredible reach numbers. Top names tagging FabFitFun this month included product contributor Betches (Betchsicles anyone?), TV starlet Sadie Robertson, and singer Jamie Lynn Spears.

Instagram Reach Metric Marketing ROI

FabFitFun's reach through user-generated content over the past 4 weeks is pretty stellar.

This Betches post gave FatFitFun almost 1.3 million impressions. NBD.

Sadie Robertson is, like, really excited about about her FabFitFun box. Just sayin'.

Jamie Lynn Spears is drowning in FabFitFun swag!

While hashtags are generally important, they often don't compare in quality when it comes to impressions. The box brand uses 2 of them, which weren't as far-reaching, but insightful nonetheless: #FabFitFun, which received 15.2M impressions over the past 4 weeks, and the summer box hashtag #FFFSummer, which reached 43.1K Instagram users over the same period.

FabFitFun Instagram hashtag reach impressions metric marketing ROI

#FabFitFun hashtag reach over the past 4 weeks.

Instagram hashtag reach impressions metric marketing ROI

#FFFSummer hashtag reach over the past 4 weeks.

This e-commerce model isn't going anywhere. In fact, Unilever just acquired the Dollar Shave Club for a cool 1 billion, in case you needed any more proof. It’s also pretty clear that subscription boxes and Instagram marketing go hand in hand. Between consistent quality content and multi-platform influencer marketing strategies, FabFitFun seems to have perfected the formula for reach and follower growth.

Although hashtags may be a way to track performance and connect audience members, consumers evidently prefer tagging, which is a benefit for the brand because the impressions are more valuable. Regardless, they obviously aren't experiencing a UGC drought.

Ready to subscribe yet?!

Interested in learning about the return of your subscription box Instagram marketing efforts? Get in touch! We’ll be happy to unbox.