Why publishers are introducing (and growing) product box programs

November 19, 2021

By Sara Guaglione

InStyle and The Cut created their first product boxes for sale this month, as this line of business at Eater and Group Nine reaches their one-year anniversaries. Although each publisher is relatively new to this product line, the approaches they’ve taken to this business cannot necessarily be put in the same, well, box.

InStyle is experimenting with this initiative as a revenue stream, while The Cut is looking to elevate beauty brands from diverse founders through its charitable undertaking. Eater is adding more features to its subscription box offering based on feedback from subscribers, while Group Nine has built a seven-figure business from its branded product box ad program.

Why do publishers find product boxes a worthwhile investment? It can be a tactile way for a media company to engage with people, show off its editorial curation abilities with products that people want to try out (and for less money — most boxes can be bought at a price lower than the total value of the products inside), deepen relationships with advertisers and diversify its e-commerce offerings. While some publishers at Condé Nast like Allure and GQ have had subscription boxes available for purchase for years, other companies are just beginning to experiment in this space.


On Nov. 1, Meredith’s fashion magazine InStyle introduced a line of limited-edition boxes curated around astrological signs. Susan Miller, founder of AstrologyZone.com, helped select beauty items with InStyle editors for four different boxes that match the traits of the fire, earth, air and water astrological signs. Meredith markets the “Cosmic Collection” boxes as having a value of over $150 each but sells them for $35.

InStyle is working with Brandshare, an e-commerce and experiential sampling, subscription and loyalty marketing company, to produce 50,000 boxes. Brandshare is handling procurement of the products in InStyle’s box. Each box contains about 10 products. The box also comes with a 35-page booklet with astrology-based predictions for 2022. People who buy a box also get a free, 12-month InStyle print magazine subscription by mailing a pre-paid card with their address, according to a spokesperson.

“It’s a sampling business, so to speak,” said Agnes Chapski, Meredith’s group publisher for the InStyle, Shape and Health brands. “These products are in there because they want consumers to experience them and in many cases some products… consumers have never heard of, so it’s a great marketing tool for these products.”

Since August, InStyle noticed astrology had become a growing content category across its print, digital and social platforms, especially on Instagram and TikTok. It now drives roughly 600,000 views per month on the InStyle website, according to a spokesperson.

It’s the first product box for InStyle. Chapski notably was chief revenue officer at Allure when it launched its beauty subscription box. When asked why InStyle decided to launch a beauty box now, Chapski said: “We want to test and see what consumers’ appetite is for the brand and where we can play.” She sees this as the start of more experimentation in this …read more

Source:: Digiday


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