Health, wellness and beauty products are make up one of the core retail verticals. Manufacturers and sellers of these items have taken to eCommerce in recent years to put their offerings in front of customers, and their strategies have involved changing the way in which products are sold and paid for.

Specifically, health and beauty has found a good match in subscription, and the multi-item box trend. While the popularity of these models ebbs and flows over time, they have proven to have a lasting influence in the world of wellness. Mixed boxes of items are an eCommerce-era specialty that show off the potential of direct delivery to consumers and the value of eCommerce for health and beauty producers.

Envisioning disruption

The primary objective among ambitious companies today is to disrupt their respective industries. This means not just offering products and services but a whole new way to buy, thereby capturing a disproportionate part of the potential audience. In eCommerce terms, this often means creating enough value to convince people who typically shop in person to go online instead.

A Business Insider report from 2015, relatively early in the health and personal care online transformation, shows how the process of disruption took the space over. Companies offered subscription models to ensure the costs and complications of buying small, everyday items didn’t get out of control. This opened the floodgates for at least some health and beauty items to become wildly popular online and spurred eCommerce growth and expansion.

When compared to other consumer goods sectors, 2015 is a relatively late date to experience an eCommerce transformation. According to Business Insider, this was due to the fact that customers in the era before box subscriptions took over were resistant to paying frequent shipping costs and wanted to try items before buying them in large quantities. Subscription models and sample boxes arrived as targeted solutions, and transformation dutifully followed.

Staying healthy

Health and beauty can be effectively divided in half. Some of the products consumers are buying are parts of their health regimens. These are the less glamorous items such as vitamin, toothbrushes or feminine care items. A separate Business Insider overview, this one from 2018, explained all of those items and more are available via subscription.

Boxes that deal with products people need have fill an important niche. The convenience of signing up for one of these subscription plans long-term comes from the fact that consumers will now have the goods they need on a sensible schedule, without having to go out to the store. Since these are standard toiletries that customers were buying anyway, the cost will likely be easy to factor into monthly bills. Companies in this space, without the personalized or creative appeal of cosmetics, can sell their services on consistency and ease.

A package on a doorstep.Subscription models make health and beauty convenient and exciting.

Subscribing to beauty

Cosmetics are a more complex subject for online health and beauty companies. While toothbrushes and vitamins are largely the same from one person to the next, makeup, fragrances, hair care products and more are matters of personal taste and style. This segment of the industry is where the pre-eCommerce preference for trying before buying is most acutely felt. This has led to one of the dominant new business models of the past half-decade: the beauty box.

Statista pointed out that when subscribers order a beauty box, the benefits include a price break compared to buying all the items within, as well as the ability to try and sample a wide variety of new offerings. According to the statistics firm, 11 percent of female cosmetics buyers in the U.S. subscribe to one of these services. Discovery is the prime motivator for subscribing – 52 percent of shoppers said this is why they buy. In second place was the high quality-to-price ratio, with 35 percent of consumers citing it.

Offering plenty of value

Forbes contributor Richard Kestenbaum succinctly defined the kinds of subscription. Replenishment subscriptions aren’t glamorous, but they are convenient. Models that are based on trying a sampling of new goods, the beauty box model, are “inspirational.” No matter which kind of value a health and beauty company offers to its consumers, it’s clear that there’s potential to explore. Competition will remain fierce in the years ahead, as Kestenbaum projected traditional retailers will battle online-native sellers at their own game.