From meal ingredients to craft kits, beauty products to coffee beans, there’s a subscription box for almost everything.
Previously a relatively niche industry, subscription box businesses have enjoyed steady growth in popularity over the past few years, particularly in the United States. And while many subscription box start-ups attempting to ride the wave of popularity turned out to be flashes-in-the-pan, others have turned into major global brands: Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, HelloFresh, Birchbox.
Even in the UK, where subscription box services are less well-established than in the US, more than a quarter of consumers (27.4%) are currently signed up to a subscription service, according to a February 2019 report by Royal Mail Group, The UK Subscription Box Boom. At the time, the UK subscription box market was forecast to reach £1 billion in value by 2022, a 72% increase from its value in 2017.
As with every other part of retail, the coronavirus crisis has turned things on its head – but for subscription boxes, that could be very good news. With millions of people now stuck at home, many of whom are looking to try new things and entertain themselves or are unable to get regular access to certain products with ease, subscription boxes might be the perfect solution.
I spoke to three subscription box companies – Pasta Evangelists, a subscription box service for making “restaurant quality” pasta; Craftiosity, a craft subscription box; and Cratejoy, an ecommerce platform for subscription boxes – about the increase in demand that they’ve seen, why subscription boxes are playing such an important role in the current crisis, and what the lasting effects of the crisis might be on the subscription box industry.