Q&A with Bulu Box's Paul Jarrett 5/29/2015
In your opinion, why have subscription box services gained so much traction among consumers?
I can leave my opinions to myself on this as we have the data to support the answer.
We have discovered that a subscription box brings a little mystery and excitement back into a consumer’s lifestyle. Think about birthdays. The most anticipated moment is unwrapping that gift to find out what’s inside. Subscription boxes give that anticipation and that sense of wonder each and every month. It becomes something you look forward to every month.
We have also seen that people are hesitant about vitamins and supplements in general. Let’s be honest, it’s a polarizing industry and we offer a low cost to entry. Once someone discovers a product that physically makes them feel better - they become a loyal customer.
Where do you see the subscription box service industry going in the next 5 years? In the next 10 years?
The subscription market in the next 5 years is going to go through a time of acquisitions and mergers. Smaller subscription box companies with customer bases of a few thousand might decide to get out of the game or realize that they need more than just the box to continue growth. I’m guessing that smaller subscription box companies will eventually merge into a few companies that control their respective market (i.e. beauty, health, pet boxes).
As larger companies watch our industry grow they’re going to have to answer the “buy or build” question for themselves. We’ve seen a few ‘build” attempts and they’ve all failed. In reality, it is incredibly complex to organize brands, collect data and ship out a product on time. After more than 3 years, we have it down but it took time, money and putting your future on the line...that’s something a lot of companies aren’t ready to do.
The next 10 years in the ecommerce market space could look totally different from today. We could be delivering boxes by drone and having customers print their daily vitamin on their 3d printers by that time!
What are the attributes of an ideal product for Bulu Box?
It really depends on the goal for the brand. Since we collect data and provide it back via BuluInsights.com any product is a good fit because at the very least brand partners receive data and insights back. A savvy online brand realizes they will get the value of sampling with us back tenfold via our Social Media reach and content (SEO/Google). There’s a reason that brands will sample with us more than six times a year.
We think about it this way... If you have a product launching, great - use Bulu Box to raise Brand Awareness. If you have a product that you’re confused on why it’s selling or not selling, great - use Bulu Box to get the survey data back. If you have a product about to expire or some packaging changes, great use Bulu Box instead of throwing product away.
In short, all products are an ideal fit because you’ll learn something new about it. The smart brands have figured out it’s a research and development tool.
What makes participating in a subscription box a more powerful marketing tool than other more traditional options?
I would argue that not all subscription boxes are more powerful marketing tools than other more traditional options. Nowadays there are a few (too many) subscription boxes out there and a lot of them are trying to squeeze profit out of the box and your sample. From day one with Bulu Box we knew that was a bad strategy, to be honest it didn’t cross our mind! As the former VP of Marketing for Complete Nutrition I knew that if our goals didn’t align with our Brand Partners we were...well...screwed. We built Bulu Box with the intention of collecting data to make the product better and sell more full-size products. Our business model relies on selling the full-size version of the product...so our goals of selling more full-size align with our Brand Partners’ goals.
That said, I do believe that Subscription boxes like ours are powerful because customers are paying to be marketed to (think about that for a minute). We’re also providing crucial feedback and surveys back on your product. Consumers are paying a fee to be sent samples to try out within their lifestyles, and we in turn ask them what they liked or didn’t like about your product and then provide you with all of that data.
As a Brand Partner you’re getting a sample to a qualified and paying lead, you’re getting free marketing with our Social Media, emails, blog and videos, you’re getting surveys filled out, you’re getting predictive analytics bundled and back and we’re following up on your behalf to sell full-size.
What kind of customer insights can vendors gain access to by partnering with Bulu Box or any other subscription service?
When Brand Partners decide to sample with Bulu Box, they will now gain access to our new software BuluInsights.com. This is a brand portal where companies can log in and see their sampling features, what customers are saying about their product, how sales are going, set up promotions and set up future sampling features all in one place. There’s much more coming but since launching beta we’ve received nothing but positive feedback!
In what ways has ECRM helped to facilitate your business process?
ECRM has been great to not only connect with new brand partners and explain what we do in a comfortable, sit-down setting, but it’s also been pivotal in developing relationships with those brands and to find out exactly what their goals are and how Bulu Box can help them achieve those goals. We love ECRM and the attendees. We’re grateful we get to show our product and new software off...we’re just really excited to ease a pain point in the industry and ECRM helps us with that.