Big Data Series: Birchbox is all about the Conversion… and Its Working


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Abstract: Meghan Casserly’s article examines the success of Birchbox, a member based monthly subscription box. Their vision was clear and had a win-win for both brands and consumers. Users would benefit from trying out products that were either too obscure or too costly to purchase in the full-size version to be tried by the average consumer. This would give beauty product lovers a chance to try before they bought and review for others. Monthly subscription boxes, like Birchbox, have changed the way companies market and the way consumers buy. Some of the important numbers: Currently 50% of all subscribers are making regular full size purchases on the site and that, which surpassed the numbers they had predicted. According to Birchbox, 15% of all E-commerce orders come from non-subscribers, which Beauchamp says is “a testament to the educational content on the site as well as Birchbox-exclusive products.”

If I haven’t said this enough times already, the most efficient marketing channel for beauty products currently is social media. Millions of people use it to research product reviews, photos, and how-tos. With accessibility to reviews and tutorials online, beauty brands that don’t have a large social media engagement, will not likely succeed. Subscription boxes are a new, disruptive innovation from an old industry concept: try it before you buy it. Before the Internet, social media and other technological advancements, companies had to invest in costly, time-consuming focus groups and surveys to determine what consumers wanted and purchased. Now with web analytics, they can reach their market quickly and with the correct products.

I love the last line of this article: “Birchbox is marketing, media, analytics and retailer all rolled into one.” These monthly subscription boxes have changed the way companies are marketing as well as the way consumers are buying. When registering for Birchbox, shoppers are prompted to complete an initial profile survey.  Each month, members receive a customized selection of samples from various beauty brands based on this profile. Membership is $10 a month and you can cancel at anytime.  These boxes can include brand new products, current products with updated colors or formulas, and best sellers. Because of the detailed survey subscribers are required to take when registering, Brichbox can help brands target specific products to the right subscribers. This creates an outlet for brands to market their products to niche markets. If the subscriber likes to try various lip colors, he or she will end up with more lip products in their box. Subscribers can retake the survey if they are looking for something else.

Where does big data come in besides the ability to segment and customize products? Conversion rates. Birchbox uses conversion as one of their main measurers of success. For example, Stila Cosmetics sent a sample of one of their products to 7% of Birchbox subscribers based on their beauty profiles (the survey). The product saw an 11.2% conversion rate into a full sized purchase. It may not seem like a lot, but in this industry, that is strong number given how many SKUs a brand usually has. I like the idea of companies using these subscription boxes as outlets to market their products. It shows the innovation within the industry and how analytics can help customize who brands want to target.


Big Data Series: Sephora + Pinterest Web Analytics = Catering to the Customer

I’ve been sharing my thoughts on the use of “big data” within the beauty industry in my Predictive Analytics class this semester. I posted one of my papers a few weeks ago and wanted to share another, from an article on Sephora’s social media analytics.

Abstract: The article examines how Sephora uses Pinterest Analytics to track activity of their followers to create content their followers will be interested in, leading to more traffic to the company’s own website. Sephora actively began incorporating Pinterest into their marketing strategy, with the first step of integrating Pinterest on its website by adding the “Pint It” button. They added links to Pinterest in their email blasts and began creating themed boards to compliment these e-mailed marketing promotions. In the month following the email campaign, Sephora saw 60% growth in traffic from Pinterest. By using real-time metrics created by Pinterest and categories listed Most Recent, Most Repinned and Most Clicked, Sephora was easily able to see the popularity of new website content, e-mail marketing and their activity within Pinterest like new pins and pinboards. Sephora found that their most popular Pinterest content includes beauty lists, color swatches and face charts.

Sephora is a pioneer in gathering customer data and utilizing analytics programs to best provide for consumers. They were the first retailer in the industry to establish a rewards card that customers could used to sync up their online shopping account with in-store purchases. The advantage: customers could track their own purchases and any samples they received and Sephora could track customer-purchasing trends. Like any rewards card, there are perks, and with a Sephora Beauty Rewards Card, you receive a personalized profile online with recommended products, beauty tutorials, special discounts and free samples of new beauty products. For companies like Sephora, this is a small price to pay for such a large amount of data.

Utilizing predictive analytics creates a chain reaction for retailers, especially in an industry that is driven by word of mouth and recommendations. Retailers can use analytics to give their customers special offers, show them how to use their products and give beauty advice, all tailored to the individual shopper. This in return brings customers back to the retailer to purchase and try new products. Specifically in the case of Pinterest Analytics, Sephora cannot only recommend products they sell, but create visual boards to group colors, brands and looks together. I have realized that customers want ease of shopping and this is what Sephora has done.


Pantene – Labels Against Women #WhipIt

I can’t believe I forgot to post about this video! In November, Pantene launched a new ad campaign, “Labels Against Women,” that shed some perspectives on gender stereotypes. I can’t consider myself a hardcore feminist (although I definitely believe in equal rights), but I think there is something important to be said about this video… we as women, are our OWN biggest critics. Throughout the last few centuries, roles of men have never really changed, but the roles of women have and it will still take time for society to accept this. I think women sometimes have issues accepting it as well. So many times, I’ve heard working women bash stay-at-home moms and vice versa. I know working women who would rather work for a man that a women, because they feel that women in power are more pushy.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too opinionated on gender roles… that is usually better discussed over coffee 🙂 but I just wanted to share this powerful video.

A Little DIY During the Break

I have to admit, accomplishing DIY projects are quite fulfilling. After moving to Roanoke, I convinced the hubs to move us out of his bachelor pad and into a place with some character. Little did we know that we’d come across an old cotton mill that was renovated into lofts. Talk about CHARACTER… exposed brick, ceiling to floor windows, original hardwood and gorgeous exposed wooden beams. It’s slowly coming together and I wanted to share one of my favorite DIY projects so far: our tea & coffee station. (the only thing missing is our little french press because it’s on back order)

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This was our other setup (white tray instead of espresso tray)


This was our other setup (white tray instead of espresso tray)