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Subscription Box Companies Make Money Selling Free Samples

August 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
One of the newest formulas for online retail success is the theme-based subscription box that arrives – at $10 to $30 per shipment -- full of stuff the company got as free samples from other companies. The concept originated with two Harvard Business School graduates who created Birchbox. The company, for $10 a month, mails a box packed with free sample cosmetics products. A slew of competitors now offer doomsday preparation supplies, pet treats, Japanese snacks, recipes and ingredients, wine, children’s products, socially responsible goods, and books (and trinkets) for young adults. Some observers think the subscription box phenomenon may be a bubble about to burst, but that’s not deterring copycats: “[The economics are] alluring enough that new players keep charging in."
Stacy Cowley, "Want to Shop for a Surprise? Try a Subscription Box", The New York Times, August 12, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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