The Impact of Subscription Boxes on the Corrugated Industry

Published June 6, 2019

As commerce trends have shifted to create room in the market for increased e-commerce and subscription sales, the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), SPA and corrugated industries have had to evolve to meet new consumer needs. From conscious use of recycled packaging to improving environmental sustainability to increasing social interactions to broaden their horizons and serve a wider consumer base, marketers and brands are being forced to think outside the corrugated box in order to stay in business. For commerce, e-commerce producers or packagers utilizing corrugated boxes, corrugated cardboard or corrugated cardboard sheets, subscription boxes have the potential to add a cutting-edge source of revenue to your business.

What Are Subscription Boxes?

You’ve undoubtedly noticed the trendy advertisements showing off customized deliveries of food, makeup or clothes. For some, purchasing products through a themed box delivered to your home regularly makes checking their mail and picking up packages just a bit more exciting. Although the general idea of subscription boxes has roots dating back to the 19th century, they were more recently popularized by industry kings like Birch Box (an assorted bundle of high-end makeup and beauty products) and Blue Apron (portioned meal ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes designed to help every person be a cook).

Many other brands have latched onto the rising trend with glaring success. Today, there is a subscription service for just about every interest and product group imaginable, with each one conveniently delivered directly to your doorstep. Whether consumers are receiving a gorgeous pair of high heels to add to their closet, finding their pet’s new favorite toy, or planning out meals for the next week, subscription box companies have tapped into the fact that consumers are willing to pay for convenient services.

Who Are The Companies Behind Subscription Boxes?

A subscription-based business is a company that collects subscribers’ preferences, chooses items on their behalf according to those preferences and then mails the boxes out. Depending on the nature of the service and the consumer’s chosen plan, boxes might be mailed out weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Generally speaking, subscription companies don’t create new types of products or services. Instead, they provide a new, convenient and innovative way to sell existing types of products. Subscriptions do not actually change what consumers want. Rather, the companies who send them out have learned to encourage consumers to look at existing products with fresh eyes, and even discover products they never knew about.

In recent years, we’ve seen beauty and food-related boxes climbing to the top of popular subscription lists. Blue Apron recipe boxes remain extremely popular and have been joined by similar subscriptions like Hello Fresh. In addition, healthy snack subscription boxes like Urthbox and Love With Food are gaining notice from the industry as they begin to produce larger profits. In the beauty business, the original Birch Box led to the introduction of countless other beauty and style subscription boxes like Ipsy, the Dollar Shave Club and StitchFix.

How Subscription Boxes Have Impacted the Corrugated Industry

Similar to the way in which subscription companies have encouraged consumers to see products in new ways, the rising popularity of these boxes is pushing producers of corrugated boxes and packaging to approach these potential customers from a new perspective. In the increasingly competitive world of e-commerce subscription boxes, brand differentiation is crucial to remaining relevant. The internet allows customers to easily find your information, products and services at the click of a mouse or a tap of their phone. It’s important to keep in mind that they can also, just as easily, find your competition’s information.

In order to stay relevant, leaders in the corrugated box and cardboard sheet industry are being forced to diversify not only the products they offer, but the look of the boxes, sheets and packaging materials as well. Here are three variables to be aware of that can help producers capture the business of subscription companies:

1. Brown is Boring

Many subscription boxes have worked to cultivate a standout brand identity through fun and colorful packaging. FabFitFun targets teens and younger women through health, makeup, skincare, wellness and fashion-related products. Each quarter, the company gets a different artist to design its seasonal boxes, but each package is characterized by bright, cheery colors. This trend towards non-standard packaging shows us that the standard corrugated brown box may eventually fall out of fashion, at least in the area of subscription boxes.

2. The Unboxing Experience Matters

E-commerce retailers understand that opening a package can be nearly as thrilling as getting to what’s inside. Many subscription companies encourage consumers to share their unboxing experiences on social media through photos, videos and reviews. Attractive packaging, neat wrapping, carefully separated products — all of these factors represent opportunities for corrugated box suppliers to create new, needed products.

3. Sustainability is Attractive

The environmentally conscious efforts of corrugated box companies have been picking up speed as a growing number of companies bend to meet consumers’ desire for sustainability. Recycled materials, biodegradable packaging and non-plastic options are attractive to many subscription companies with a wide consumer base. Taking note of these shifting demands, the corrugated industry is continuing to diversify their offerings to meet this new desire.

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