I posed a question on reddit about the discount structure (or lack of) of some beauty boxes, where some offer discounts on long-term subscriptions, and others offer free postage. However, are those discounts really worth it? They have your money upfront— they may go bankrupt, or the quality of the products may decline? Is that worth the risk for the discounts offered? Rather than discuss on the reddit thread with those who don’t think discounts are necessary (obviously they like paying full price for free samples and a pretty box), I outline the true discounts and why some aren’t really worth it.
First of all you must understand that the companies make huge profits on the boxes, and the small print means that they are not obliged to send out any specific items, which allows them to send out pretty much anything. Shipping costs are also inflated, because couriers are already paid for via a contract, so is that a way to bump up the price of the subscriptions? Also I have read on social media when people have tried to claim a discount, the sites have wiggled out of it somehow or ignored the question. Funny how they have time to respond to praises, but not to negative feedback? It just makes me think they don’t want to give discounts, and try to create more loopholes for people to use them.
Glossybox offer a (£10) monthly, (£9.50) 3, (£9) 6 and (£8.50) yearly plan. The discount is only 50 pence between the rolling monthly option and the 3-month subscription, so is saving £1.50 worth it? Occasionally there are discount codes of 20-30% off the first box when you sign up for a long term subscription, however, the wording can be deceptive as in the small print it says the first box only, but in the advertising teaser it can appear to look as if it is off the whole subscription.
Birchbox offer a (£10) monthly box, (£60) 6 month subscription with one free £2.95 shipping), and (£100) yearly option which gives you two free boxes. The best value seems to be the yearly option with 17% off, but there is little incentive to sign up for the 6 month option with a £2.95 saving. While people do say you earn your money back in points, what if there is nothing you want to buy, or what you want is out of stock? In addition there are exclusions as to what you can use your points for.
Love Me Beauty doesn’t offer discounts, but gives bonus credits for longer prepaid subscriptions. A 3-month subscription has 30 bonus credits, 6 months has 60 and a yearly one has 120 bonus credits. However, there is the small print where you can’t bank points, and also there is often limited choice in the boutique, so s it worth getting a free product when there isn’t much to choose from?
LookFantastic offers a (£15) monthly option, (£13.33) 3 month, (£12.50), and (£11.25) yearly option. Postage is included in the price and you can save from £5 to £45 by signing up for a longer subscription. The yearly subscription means you can save 25%, and you can also pay monthly, unlike others boxes where you must prepay.
I feel in this competitive industry and how retail is turning to online sales to cut costs, the consumer should be aware of what is good value. Many companies offer referral discounts, or a discounted first box, to attract customers, but they still make profit from these. A typical box may retail from £13 to £15 including postage, but the actual cost to the company is probably about £3-£5 wholesale, so even a free box where you pay only postage still makes a profit. I do feel there should be more genuine discounts available, and perhaps there are retention discounts sent out to those who are about to renew, but the companies are making enough profits to warrant discounts.
Perhaps they don’t need to discount them because there is a thriving market, but soon consumers will tire of repeat products, and how many pretty boxes can one really use? Still, there are plenty of young uninformed teens and beauty geeks out there who don’t mind spending money on samples, and who are impressed by pretty packaging. As long as they exist these companies will appeal to them, however, women do grow up (most do) and become wiser and look for quality and value. I’m not sure all beauty boxes fulfill those vital criteria. In effect, consumers are paying for the packaging of the boxes, as most of the contents are samples that are actually free or the cost incomparable to the perceived retail value.