Social Commerce

Subscription Club Craze: Hiskit Launches, Birchbox Secures $10.5M

Surprise is what lies behind the current online subscription club craze.  Subscription clubs – where you pay to receive a monthly surprise box in the mail of curated goodies – work for vendors because they take the surprise element of sales away – by providing regular, predictable subscription income.  And that’s good. Subscription clubs work for subscribers because they add a surprise element to product discovery, specifically a surprise in the form of a months gift box. And that’s good too.

So it should come as no surprise that online subscription clubs are replicating around the web like a virulent virus. They even have their own hashtag #subcom (subscription commerce) (here’s another useful roundup, directory and analysis from Sean Percival (Thanks Liad from Shoply)). The latest subcom example reported yesterday in Springwise is Hiskit, a new subscription club for men to discover new grooming products for $15/month (with underwear, and phone accessories thrown in for good measure).

Hiskit is Birchbox for men – and that’s no bad thing since Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp’s luxury sampling box business for the beauty industry is growing 50% month on month (in subscribers) and has just closed a US$10.5 million Series A round of funding, led by Accel Partners. Hiskit is the sort of thing that FHM and GQ, Men’s Health, and other men’s lifestyle magazines should be doing to future-proof themselves against obsolescence – but they aren’t – yet.

It remains to be seen whether men will take to the Hiskit grooming boxes in their present form in the same way women are flocking to the Birchbox beauty box; most subscription clubs are female-oriented and some recent qualitative research we conducted on gender differences in decision paths suggested that product discovery for men may be somewhat different to that of women – more inertia and smaller consideration sets for men (one very popular online category excepted).

Perhaps supercharging Hiskit with that particular category in question could be the answer…

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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