Infographic: Serendipity in Subscription Boxes

By: Dheepan Ramanan

November 19, 2015

customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback
Social Customer Care
social listening

Right now there are over 226 million posts tagged as #selfie on Instagram. “Selfie” has been accepted as a real word by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and everyone from Kim Kardashian, to Barrack Obama, to your grandmother has taken one. But have you thought about what selfies represent when it comes to retail? It’s all about the individualization of experience—and it might come in a box to your front door.

In the selfie era, customers now demand service and product specifications that are tailored to their individual needs, preferences, and desires. No business model seems better fitted to uber-niche personalization than subscription boxes.

Do you want Japanese snacks? How about young-adult literature? Why not a selection of dog treats and toys? Whatever your tastes you can find a subscription box customized for you.

And now it’s big business. Blue Apron, a subscription box that mails fresh ingredients and recipes for homemade meals, recently raised $135 million in funding from venture capital. To help us understand this rising, customer-centric trend, we used sentiment analysis to compare 6 subscription boxes in 3 different industries to find the best in breed in shaving, beauty products, and healthy snacks.

Today’s customers love the ability to get exactly what they want, delivered when they want it. That’s why the next #selfie you take might be with your newly-delivered subscription box.


Shaving Subscription Boxes: Harry’s vs. Dollar Shave Club (DSC)

  • Harry’s gets more favorable sentiment than Dollar Shave Club overall, and in all of our points of comparison. DSC is still positive when it comes to shave quality, but Harry’s is even more positive.
  • Harry’s customers were 23% more likely to mention shave quality, and to do so with higher sentiment.
  • Harry’s customers were also more satisfied with the delivery speed and consistency and were 53% less likely to mention issues with shipping.
  • People who frequently shave their heads are more often associated with DSC than Harry’s (447 comments to only 140).

Snack Subscription Boxes: Graze vs. Naturebox

  • Naturebox is the winner in this category with higher sentiment overall, but for most of the areas of comparison the sentiments are very similar.
  • Where Naturebox does excel is their sign-up. Naturebox customers are 21% more likely to mention this topic and have 25% less negative comments around this important issue.
  • Of the most commonly mentioned snacks, Grazebox’s “Flapjacks,” are an important differentiator which is not offered by Naturebox.
  • For most of the top-mentioned snacks, Naturebox has a higher sentiment. The exceptions are the aforementioned Flapjacks, and Pretzels/Crackers, where Grazebox rates more highly.

Beauty Subscription Boxes:  Ipsy vs. Birchbox

  • These two retailers are fairly close in overall sentiment, with Birchbox getting the slight nod in overall sentiment.
  • Of the top 7 product categories examined, Birchbox had higher sentiment in 4 of the categories, with Ipsy coming out on top in hair products and the two companies tying in mascara and skin-care.
  • Birchbox wins in overall product quality and has a slight advantage in ease of signup.
  • Personalization is a big differentiator for Birchbox. In this area the retailer possesses 29% more positive comments.
  • There is also a big difference in the number of mentions for cancellations. Birchbox customers mentioned cancelling their service 110% less often than Ipsy customers.

Download the high-resolution graphic here.


Dheepan Ramanan is a data scientist at Clarabridge. Follow him on Twitter @DheepanRamanan.