Spurred by both abundant venture capital and aspirational entrepreneurs, China ecommerce sector has seen the rise of a battery of new business models in recent years. For instance, Meituanand Lashou introduced group buying to China market in 2010 with thousands of followers going after the so-called O2O market. Last year three new innovative travel booking methods – last minute booking, name-your-own-price and vague booking – were all implemented in China through localised products and services such as “Hotel Tonight“, “Ctrip Huixuan” and “eLong Hotel Bidding“.
All these aforementioned services were inspired by BirchBox in the States. Founded in 2010 by two Harvard Business School fellow, BirchBox is one of the first batch of subscription-based ecommerce (or subcom) services, and probably the best known one. You subscribe to the service for 10 dollar/month and get new cosmetic samples every month. At present BirchBox boasts 100,000+ paid subscribers and has raised US$ 11.9 million from Accel Partners and other venture capitals.
BirchBox saved women from the inconvenience and awkwardness of trying out samples in a shop. Just tell the website a bit about yourself like your skin type, hair colour and so on, it will send you a full box of surprise to your doorstep monthly. You can just try them at your will from the comfort of your couch. At the same time, brands can use the data gathered by BirchBox to find and reach out to their targeted customers. BirchBox’s big potential in helping cosmetics makers with targeted marketing could be one of the reasons why Accel invested in the company.
MyLuxBox, one of the first subcom services in China, is thinking about the same thing. The company said that subcom is a win-win game for both brands and consumers. Since cosmetics industry in China is experiencing exponential growth with numerous new foreign and domestic brands constantly entering the market, Chinese consumers had problems in figuring out different brands and it can be quite overwhelming sometimes for them to locate the most suitable brands and products. On the other hand, cosmetics companies need as many as possible channels to tout for customers other than the traditional ones.
The company believes the huge potential for subcom in China cause they’ve already saw excitement from both consumers and companies as they start to appreciate the benefits of this interesting model.
MyLuxBox was launched in last August with seed funding from Xu Xiaoping’s ZhenFund and offices in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. The company is currently looking to Series A.
However, as subcom in the States has developed so many variants, almost all its Chinese counterparts confined themselves to the cosmetics corner.
For example, in addition to BirchBox, in America there’re also Manpacks (subcom of male underwears), TrunkClub (male apparel), TurntableKitchen (food recipe and albums), TeaSparrow (tea) and so forth.
GlossyBox China said that one of the reasons why Chinese subcoms have a thing for cosmetics is because it’s FMCG nature. Firstly, consumers are always buying; secondly, the market is big enough with nice prospect in the map. Founded in last March in Germany and ventured into China in last November, GlossyBox now has 220,000 subscribers globally while about 10,000 of them are from China. The company has established partnership with brands like Armani, Helena Rubinstein and Jurlique.
The good thing is, Chinese subcoms are catching up. MyLuxBox revealed that they’ve started launching some verticals in addition to cosmetics. For example, they just launched their “Lux Taste” box, a box full of snacks carefully selected for subscribers. It’s aiming to become a lifestyle platform and develop more boxes to surprise its users.