Subscription products by mail growing in popularity

Once a month, a package comes through the mail, its treasures a secret until the recipient cracks the seal and opens the box.

Subscription boxes are a trend soaring in popularity.

For a small (or not so small) fee, ranging from less than $20 to more than a few hundred dollars a month, anyone can subscribe to a box of any theme.

Some of the most common themes subscribers purchase are cosmetics, jewelry, pet products and food.

For the bookish

One subscription being purchased by many is for the reading-inclined.

Just the Right Book, a book subscription service, offers the advice of book experts, who pair up readers with books to ensure an unforgettable reading experience.

Elizabeth Katz, operations manager for Just the Right Book, said book subscription prices vary and are usually purchased by gift-givers.

“We offer mostly gift subscriptions,” she said. “You can order four, six or 12 books over the course of the year in hardcover, a mix of hardcover and (trade) paperback or just (trade) paperback. We rarely send mass market paperbacks.”

Katz said the prices of a subscription reflects the type of books and the frequency of the shipment of them, so an order of 12 hardcover books will cost around $395.

“There’s surprise to this gift,” she said. “The majority don’t know about it until they get the gift.”

Katz said the unique book experience offered with Just the Right Book doesn’t stop there.

“If (recipients) get a book they’ve read or don’t want to read, we’ll send a new book and return postage for the old book,” she said. “We offer a lot in terms of service.”

Katz said current subscriptions total about 500 with a renewal rate of about 50 percent.

For the meat lovers

For those looking to purchase subscriptions that flavorable favorites look no further: The Carnivore Club offers a wide variety of select meat for those craving it.

Each month members of the Carnivore Club receive four to six varieties of unique charcuterie, terrines and artisan crafted jerky from around the world, usually from artisan producers.

“We offer really high-end products people won’t be able to find on their own,” said Carnivore Club co-founder and CEO Tim Ray.

Ray added that about 1,500 boxes were sent out to members in December.

He said January will feature a company from Madison, Wis., while February and March will feature companies in California.

“We’re about finding the best of the best that’s out there,” Ray said, adding that Carnivore Club was formed for “the affluent urban foodie.”

Ray said the club is a very unique experience which would cost subscribers about $50 a month. One-time subscriptions are available at a cost of $55.

“We’re just really passionate about meat and we’re the ultimate meat club,” he said.

For the cosmetics lovers

There are thousands upon thousands of cosmetics and beauty products floating around the shelves of stores and boutiques across the country.

Finding the right ones can be difficult, but there are many subscription boxes that cater to those wanting to experience something new.

Julep, Birchbox, Glamour Doll Eyes, PopSugar and Total Beauty are just a few that offer monthly subscriptions for the glamor and makeup inclined.

A $20 subscription to Julep Maven will mean two to four beauty products, a $15+ subscription to Total Beauty will get five or more items, a $35 subscription to PopSugar will mean six items, a $6 subscription to Glamour Doll Eyes will get subscribers one eyeshadow and a $10 subscription to Birchbox will mean four to five items.

Another subscription company, Wantable, caters to those who want boutique items.

Wantable Marketing Manager Stuart McMullin said the experience is so women can discover a unique, curated e-commerce subscription company.

“Not one box is the same as any other box,” he said.

Women fill out a 10 to 15 minute beauty profile to “paint a better picture of who she is.”

McMullin said many companies take a shotgun approach, just sending out random items, where at Wantable, the experience is customized.

“If we know more information about our customer, we can hit her touchpoints better,” he said.

“We send out full-size boutique items,” McMullin said. “It’s pricer, $36 (for monthly boxes) or $40 for a one-off box.”

McMullin said products are shipped to Canada, Australia, the United States and, most recently, the United Kingdom.

Subscribers can feel like they are getting their money’s worth; most subscribers get $80 to $100 worth of products for about 60 percent off the retail price, he said.

For the wine drinkers

Tasting Room offers a $10 per month subscription for six wine samples and $150 quarterly cases of wine.

The purpose of Tasting Room is to help wine drinkers discover their favorite wine flavors.

Tasting Room will create a personalized wine profile, which will enable the company to send wine selections sure to please any wine drinker’s palate.

The wine samples are a true representation of the original bottles of wine, and after 30 days of receiving the samplers, the first wine shipment is sent. After that, every three months will see another wine shipment at a flat rate, unless the subscription is canceled.

Locally, Kari Rings, daughter of Al and Mary Jane Phillips who are owners of The Marietta Wine Cellars, said that the idea behind wine sampling has its appeal.

“We’re so small we wouldn’t be into that,” she said. “We’d have a harder time keeping stuff in stock and we don’t ship out of the state of Ohio.”

Rings said sending samples to consumers is a brilliant idea.

“Any time you can send out samples, it increases the possibility of people purchasing your wine,” she said. “Everything helps when you can do different options for customers.”

For those who dazzle with shoes

Shoe lovers can rejoice with a monthly subscription to ShoeDazzle.

In 2009, ShoeDazzle was formed to cater to women and their love of fashion and shoes.

ShoeDazzle creates a personalized fashion fix, so that women get exactly what they’re looking for in a shoe.

ShoeDazzle offers VIP elite membership, which features members-only pricing, exclusive deals, previews and perks for $39.95 each month, which converts into rollover “VIP Credits” that members can spend or save for later.

With the membership, nearly 19 million clients have access to the best of the flats and the greatest of the skyscraper heels.

Each month, ShoeDazzle debuts a new selection of exclusive and brand-name shoes, handbags and more.

Just last year, ShoeDazzle merged with JustFab to form the world’s largest online fashion subscription service.

For the traveler’s soul

For those who love all things travel, a monthly subscription box featuring travel themes may be the ticket.

At Escape Monthly, a different destination is featured each month, from Italy to Napa Valley and then over to Colorado, which happens to be January’s destination.

At $49.95, subscribers can pamper themselves and relax each month with select luxury products.

Rebecca Rainbow, expert escapist for Escape Monthly, said that each month a few thousand subscribers are sent premium products from each travel destination.

Each box is themed around exploring and learning about new places across the globe.

For the exclusive

Craving something premium, unique and a little more exclusive? Then head over to Svbscription.

Formed in June 2012, Svbscription serves more than 20 countries and has around 400 members.

Co-founder Marc Goldenfein said themes are chosen and sent out quarterly. Visitors of the site have the option to become a member or sign up for one edition.

There are two tiers for subscriptions available: one nearly $600 membership and one that runs about $800.

“We put a lot into it,” Goldenfein said. “It’s all about new and exclusive goods.”

The $800 membership runs a little higher because of extra quality materials, extra items and special touches that aren’t available with the $600 membership.

Though the prices are high, the brands are something that won’t be found on just any shelf, and are a product of collaborations with big brands from across the globe.

“We’ve had collaborations with photographers, artists and brands from London and Copenhagen,” Goldenfein said. “We’re trying to make it international.”

Goldenfein also said that in addition to international brands, members are international as well.

“We’ve got members in Dubai and Singapore,” Goldenfein said. “We have members all over the world. We have a waiting list. We’ll slowly increase (member numbers), but we want to keep it limited.”

An idea for local business?

This new fad of subscription boxes doesn’t seem to be affecting business locally.

With the charm of local businesses, Charlotte Keim, president and CEO of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, said that businesses would be wise to start doing what some larger, successful names are doing.

“I don’t think (subscription boxes) will have a major impact on local business but it’s an opportunity for them to steal that idea,” Keim said. “Smaller businesses should consider doing something similar; take that idea and run with it.”