Place-Based Subscription Boxes Help Share City Brands
People who love their cities will be able to more easily share (or receive) carefully curated pieces of home if a new trend in subcom, or subscription-based ecommerce, takes off: place-based subscription boxes.
People who love their cities will be able to more easily share (or receive) carefully curated pieces of home if a new trend in subcom, or subscription-based ecommerce, takes off: place-based subscription boxes. You may have heard of Birchbox, which sends subscribers monthly boxes of beauty product samples, or BarkBox, whose subscribers' pups get the monthly goodies. Hundreds of new subcom companies currently target nearly every interest. A few of the newest of the new fit well into the context of livability, because they start with a place - a city, state or region - to build the boxes, partnering with suppliers specific to that place to create each shipment. Here's what happens:
- Local subscribers receive local products that help them discover more about independent businesses in their own communities.
- Subscribers from other places can enjoy things that, when carefully curated, can carry powerful positive messages about the city from which they came.
- Both groups can "gift a city" by buying subscriptions for friends.
- All of this only further develops and enhances the very city brand on which these businesses piggyback.
"We started with the idea that we know how great Nashville is. We have great things that are made here locally by small businesses we already patronize, and are combining that with the convenience of discovery and delivery," Davidson says. "As we've been going along, we've found that the extra player is the Nashville brand, which already resonates with a lot of people." So far, he said about 75 percent of subscribers are local folks wanting to discover local products, but added that the remaining 25 percent is "still a significant amount" of people who reside as far away as North Dakota, Seattle, and San Francisco and are interested in keeping up with what's coming out of Nashville. Why? They either grew up here and miss it or just want a taste of a city that's captured a lot of headlines lately. Davidson says the boxes will be themed and food-focused each month, with at least one nonfood item in each batch for now. They've already met with many local suppliers -- some they already knew, plus others who approached them as word spread about the new business. Working out details with suppliers takes time, as will determining when they'll have to cap subscriptions to keep supplier orders reasonable and also maintain the feeling of exclusivity people expect with curation services, he says. "We are a slow company in that we know it will take time to build up our subscriptions and develop relationships with suppliers," Davidson says. "We are not a quick and simple startup, and we are fine with that." Also important: Making sure the taste of Nashville they deliver is ample, not just samples, he added. "Some subscription businesses just send sample sizes, and something we knew right away is that while we may not be sending full sizes of everything, we want to eat least send out a meal's worth [for a food product], for example," Davidson says. "Who wants two bites of oatmeal? You want a bowl!" I've lived here more than a decade, and a whole bowl of Nashville still sounds great to me.