The future’s bright, the future’s… in boxes?

Long before I started this blog, I was a fan of treats that came in boxes. Four years ago I discovered Graze (and then coincidentally found out one of my friends had co-founded it), and spent a good few months eating my way through the range of tasty and wholesome snacks they send you every week.

Subscription model businesses for fast moving consumer goods are now booming – everyone knows about veg box schemes, and hopefully through my blog I’ve raised more awareness of meat boxes. They make so much sense from an economical, ecological and gastronomical point of view; high quality seasonal ethical food that’s cheaper, supports UK farmers and reduces the hassle of grocery shopping. It’s not to everyone’s preferences (especially if you’re a control freak about what you eat), but I love the element of surprise when you open a box and find out what’s in it.

I’ve recently discovered a wave of 2.0 subscription-style box schemes that I’d like to share with you. So bear with me while I go off-meat topic…

Larderbox – a subscription artisan food service from the team behind loveyourlarder.com. It’s all about new food discovery and supporting small producers from around the country. My sweet boyfriend sent me a March box to try out, and it contained:

  • A bottle of Cotswold Gold rosemary infused extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • A jar of toffee apple jam from The Artisan Kitchen
  • A packet of ras-el-hanout spice blend from Spicymonkey
  • A tub of Mr Grey tea bags from The *TeaShed
  • A box of signature collection chocolates from Davenports

Price ranges from £19.95 on a one-off basis, to £16.95 per box on a six-monthly subscription basis. The unboxing experience is always an important one – you should feel like you’re receiving a present from yourself. I thought the packaging was lovely; Larderbox was presented in a huge sturdy carboard box with products nestled in shredded paper and a handwritten envelope addressed to ‘Jenny’. But I was disappointed that none of the contents really whetted my appetite. There was no ‘hero’ product to grab my attention, and for £20 I felt I was paying face value rather than getting value. Perhaps it’s because none of the products surprised me or made me think, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to try that!’ Do you think Larderbox is more suitable to non-adventurous food types? Of course, I am being a bit mean and really should try the product before I comment…

Glossybox – the UK’s leading luxury beauty sample box subscription service. I’m a sucker for beauty samples, and am pretty fickle when it comes to brand loyalty; I love trying anything new. I’d seen Glossybox bandied about on beauty blogs so couldn’t resist ordering one. You get five luxury samples in a beautifully packaged, ribboned box – the unboxing really is a luxurious experience. Meanwhile on your online account you get to share your preferences, helping Glossybox tailor what samples you get. Still, the contents are a surprise until you open the box.

The monthly box is £10 with £2.95 P&P, and for women who love being pampered it’s the perfect way to ‘surprise’ yourself. There are some handbag-friendly staples in there (like Como Shambhala lotion and Paul Mitchell hair balm), with some real party pieces (an expensive DuWop Lip Venom and BareMinerals eyeshadow – all expensive, high end brands). Again, it could be a love/hate/meh thing with some of the items, but I think that’s the fun of it. In my view, £10 is an excellent price point because to a consumer it’s practically throwaway. You can order from glossybox.co.uk with the code GLOSSYTUBE2012 to get £5 off your first box.
Kopi – this one is for the coffee lovers. Sadly not me. But same concept – it’s a Gourmet Coffee Club delivered to your door every month. A different premium coffee is sourced every month and sent through your letterbox – priced from £7 per month. Have any of you tried it yet?
So to cut a long article short, I am fascinated by the idea that the future of consumption is in perfectly-proportioned boxes. In a world of so much choice, I love that elements of my lifestyle could be curated through a simple subscription model. It brings an old-fashioned, luxurious sense of surprise and experience back to shopping. What do you think?
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2 thoughts on “The future’s bright, the future’s… in boxes?

  1. There was a stall for The Spicery at the Bath Christmas market in (funnily enough) December. They send out spice mixes every month. To start with I thought it was a cute idea, but then after I’d thought about it I realised I didn’t like the idea that they were sending you X, Y and Z spices so that you can make a particular type of curry or whatever (the recipe being sent as well) which to me lacks imagination. I think it might be another one for generally less adventurous cooks who want to start branching out. However, I also adore this box culture. I became slightly obsessed with Graze boxes in my final year at uni…

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