I don't need to tell you that beauty boxes are extremely popular. As I'm sitting here writing this, I have at least three different beauty subscription boxes lined up next to me. At MSA, we decided to get a bit nerdy and deep dive into the world of beauty boxes. So, we spent some time zeroing into the nitty-gritty of beauty subscription boxes from a data point of view.
Let's Get Nerdy First
Okay, before we get started, let's talk numbers... beauty boxes by the numbers! To give you an idea, the global subscription box market size reached $18.8 Billion in 2020. And don't think subscriptions are going anywhere, the same report estimates that the market will grow over 20% in the next five years.
While at MSA, we're a tad crazy for subscription boxes. Only 11% of those surveyed by Statista were currently subscribers of beauty boxes. They probably aren't checking out our spoilers yet, right? Still, Statista says about 40% of respondents are interested in a beauty box subscription – but what's stopping them? Here's what the survey found:
- 36% don't subscribe because they think it's too expensive – in fact, the magic price for beauty boxes appears to be $11-16 per box
- 28% are not too happy with the product range
But even with their popularity, the road for subscription boxes hasn't always been smooth. Early in the pandemic circa 2020, many beauty boxes saw an uptick in cancellations. After all, who needed new makeup products to try around the house? So, beauty boxes do what they do best, adapt! Most beauty and makeup boxes (Allure, Birchbox, FabFitFun, GlossyBox, and Ipsy) started incorporating wellness and self-care items like hand sanitizer, vitamins, and candles.
This shift in product range was probably what saved subscription boxes from disappearing in the pandemic.
Super Beauty, Super Nerdy
Now, let's get to the nitty-gritty of beauty boxes specifically. By far, one of the most popular beauty boxes is Birchbox. Perhaps because it's also one of the very first ones. According to Bloomberg, Birchbox was the leading beauty box up until 2015. In fact, a 2017 Statista survey showed that 54% of respondents recognized Birchbox. But, since 2018, it was FabFitFun, Ipsy, and BoxyCharm that topped the charts. Of them all, FabFitFun had the highest quarterly sales among the top beauty boxes.
Notably, Ipsy and Birchbox send sample sizes of beauty products primarily, thus generating lower average transaction value when compared to FabFitFun. But still, Ipsy and FabFitFun almost tripled sales compared to Birchbox, leaving the once-popular beauty box at the bottom of the chart.
The One Customers Love The Most
Sales are great for companies, but customers want something else. Ipsy has the most customers and highest customer retention. Since 2017, Ipsy customers have remained relatively stable, with only slight (expected) declines in 2020. While Birchbox customers continue to drop, BoxyCharm and FabFitFun keep gaining new fans.
Better Value & More Full-Size Products = Love
Customers are obviously looking for value, aka getting the most out of their buck. The clear winner for value is the Ipsy Glam Bag Plus. At just $28 per box, you get five full-size products guaranteed. With the box's retail value averaging at $120, this is one of the best deals out there.
Beauty Boxes Also Need Makeup
The concept of beauty boxes is tricky. Are they skincare subscriptions? Are they makeup subscriptions? Isn't beauty self-care? Over the years, beauty boxes have changed to include a little bit of everything – and we like it! In fact, according to Statista, 75% of subscribers would frequently like makeup included in their beauty boxes. So, who's delivering on that promise? Luckily, some of your favorite boxes, including BoxyCharm, Allure Beauty Box, Ipsy Glam Bag Plus, and Glossybox, all include at least one makeup product in their boxes.
The Ones With Cruelty-Free Products
I'm sure we're all hoping that one day ALL beauty boxes and beauty products become cruelty-free. But, when it comes to subscription boxes, things get murky. For example, BoxyCharm, Allure Beauty Box, and Ipsy Glam Bag offer cruelty-free products. Still, the items in their boxes aren't exclusively cruelty-free. What does this mean? It means you have to check each product to see whether or not they're cruelty-free.
On the other hand, you have Glossybox, which only advertise that their skincare products are cruelty-free. Their makeup products might not be. If you're looking for cruelty-free subscription boxes, you can check out brands like Beauty Heroes and Kinder Beauty Box.
Products On Repeat?
As a skincare fanatic, there's nothing I hate more than receiving the same product from a beauty box. Even if it's another sample! One of the biggest reasons to subscribe to a beauty box is to try new products. In fact, according to Statista, at least 52% of women subscribe to beauty boxes exclusively to discover new products. So when boxes like Ipsy Glam Bag, Walmart Beauty Box, and Glossybox repeat products, it's a shame. For example, Glossybox sent beauty lovers the Kab Cosmetic lipstick in their March 2021 box and again two months later in the Limited Edition Mother's Day 2021 set. Did you notice this?
The One Product That’s Following Us Everywhere
If you subscribe to a number of top beauty boxes, chances are you have one (or more) of these lying around. It’s the PMD Clean. Perhaps, you first received one in the Causebox (Alltrue) Summer 2020 box, then it popped up in the FabFitFun Summer 2021 box (as well as FFF’s most recent Winter box), Ipsy featured this beauty tool in its Glam Bag X in November 2021 and then Curateur joined in the fun with its Winter 2022 Welcome Box.
Beauty Boxes or Nail Polish Boxes?
Sure, not everyone gets excited about nail polish in their beauty boxes. After all, you can find nail polish subscription boxes for that purpose. Still, every now and then, Glossybox would throw in a beautiful nail polish into the mix. Sometimes Allure Beauty Box will include nail stickers just for fun. But, last year, we received nail polish once in our Ipsy Glam Bag, two more in our Ipsy Glam Bag Plus, and another in our Ipsy Glam Bag X subscription. So, we're officially naming it "the one most likely to send nail polish."
Let's keep this going. What's something you want to nerd out about on the topic of beauty boxes?