I love getting mail. This is of biggest note when I stop to look at the number of blogger swaps and subscription services I've joined in the past year. Of course, in order for the previous declaration to be entirely true, I'd have to remark that I enjoy receiving bills and solicitations, via postal service, for the sheer sake of receiving something in my post box. Thankfully, I'm not that far gone, yet. There is simply something enlivening about receiving a parcel full of undisclosed goodies, hand picked for myself. When I was a child I went through a similar phase, only then there were entire books devoted to kids and the receiving of mail. You may recall filling out a SASE (if that term even still exists), and including a couple box tops or lids in exchange for a Decoder Ring, Captain America Badge, or other 'deluxe' cereal prize. Momma must've spent a fortune on these gimmicks, but she seemed perfectly content to allow me to send away for these 'free' items, so long as I was learning the value of patience and hard work. It certainly was a great way to practice my penmanship, and kept me from grumbling on the very long walk to the mailbox hutches on the other side of our condominium complex.
Today, collecting the mail is the one variable of my day that is, for the most part, entirely unpredictable. Whether it's a sample, magazines, a rebate check, a letter from a friend, or the weekly sale ads, I'm bound to find something of interest to liven my day. So this has brought me to sample many subscription 'box' services. A subscription box service, for those unfamiliar, is a collection of products put together, based on the subscriber's interested, and mailed out monthly for a uniform charge. This may include a mixture of sample and full sized products, all full sized products, or solely samples. In 2012 this concept seemed to really take off, spurring the creation of several distinct 'niche' companies catering to the eco-friendly, parents, pet lovers, etc. A lot of them are near identical in concept; the prices and themes change, but the business plan does not. Cravebox is entirely different.
I should begin by noting that Cravebox is not a subscription based service. At no time are you auto-billed monthly, or required to 'opt out' in order to stop the service from billing you. There are no customer service reps to beg in billing if you've missed a monthly deadline, and you can be a member (for free) indefinitely without making a purchase.This company is also different in that it does not cater to one specific niche of consumer, and it does not try to sell leftover boxes for months after a release. To that extent, the quantity of 'boxes' is limited, and the members who elect to receive them are part of an exclusive group. An especially unique way that Cravebox has approached this concept is through the marketing of 'drawings' rather than subscriptions. But don't let that term scare you away, I've yet to miss out in a 'drawing'. Say, for example, you are interested in buying an upcoming Beautiful By You Cravebox. You would sign in to the website, fill out a brief consumer survey (based on the theme of the box), and elect to be charged a pre-designated rate at the time of the box's drawing.
As different as the 'drawing' system is, this is Cravebox's way of ensuring, in instances of rapid growth, or overwhelming interest, they have not outsold boxes, or slighted customers. I recall, with a subscription based service, I was once charged for a box selection that had sold out. The company later explained that it's customer base had nearly doubled within the month, and they were caught off guard trying to fulfill commitments to all their subscribers. In the interim, they customer service and billing department was short staffed, and hardly equipped to handle the refunds and credits in a timely manner. There are no subscriptions with Cravebox, and you are never charged for a box that is not designated on it's way to you- nor are you ever obligated to buy a box. These factors on their own rank the company high among my preferred favorites, though I have been with them for near a year, and their success has not been without growing pains. Most importantly, though, this fairly young company is always striving to improve their programs with member feedback, and operates a customer service department that excels in all of my expectations.
Signing up for Cravebox is entirely free; you may even decide to forgo billing information until your first purchase, if desired (though I recommend having it filled in, to speed up the entry process in drawings). You may choose to opt out of all communications/newsletter if you desire, though you will then be accountable for logging in to learn about new boxes. And, while the website is fairly basic in design, there is a comprehensive 'Past Box' section of the site, where prospective members, and old buyers, can browse reviews and content from previous Craveboxes. This section is an especially valuable tool to me, as it provides a window to view the products that are creating the most buzz, and put them on my own shopping list to experience. Cravebox is also highly engaged in social media, from Twitter parties, to daily member chats on Facebook, and un-boxing videos featured on their YouTube channel. After signing up, as a member, you'll be given the opportunity to add social media details for inclusion in various contests and promotional opportunities. This is entirely optional, but great for bloggers and social buyers who already share their buys. This leads right into the referral program, where members can earn 1 point for every box purchased, by referred members, for the life of their membership. Points are later then converted into drawings and exclusive giveaways.
I've received 5 boxes since joining Cravebox, almost a year back, and I'll admit that my expectations leveled out. While the brand markets their teams of curators searching for "unique finds", I've come to learn that basic boxes (think Spring Cleaning) will in fact feature the newest products from big name brands. This has been a disappointment for some of my friends, who were looking to receive a collection of off-name and start-up brands/products. Cravebox has listened to this feedback and The recent Zataran's Big Game box is a great example of this. More boxes with tailored interests and pre-defined contents. That is, without revealing the exact contents, guided surveys and bullets to help members gauge if the box is right for them. It's pretty clear that this box will contain some tasty Zatarans favorites, and game day aids like disposable tableware and seasonings. More obscure boxes, like the creative, upcoming, Beautiful by You box will tickle the more whimsical members, who like new finds and unique boxes.
With elective boxes that range from $10-15 on average, Cravebox is not on the high end of similar services, when considering consumer cost. However, this does not translate to disappointment for the consumer, the boxes are packed with a variation of items that well exceed the price paid, in value- and shipping is always included in the purchase price. My first box, near a year ago, was what I would call an honest dud. Because I only paid $10, and I was more disappointed than upset, the products were too generic to truly excite me. Since then Cravebox has come a long way in curating unique box concepts and tailoring niche boxes for it's members. More recent boxes have included some great new-to-market products, and even a few brands I'd yet to discover. Because there is no commitment to buy, Cravebox also makes a wonderful gift to brighten anyone's day. There's an upcoming Book Lover's Box that I already have a few friends in mind for, and I'm on the list for the Zataran's drawing, which I hope to share with you all soon! For additional insight into the Cravebox program, and process, visit my Google+ Album What's a Cravebox?.
What Daughter Says: Cravebox brings me new products, worthy of craving, without the commitment or restrictions of similar services. Find your Cravebox today!
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®. #CBias #SocialFabric.