What major factors have helped the site grow?
We’re really focused on creating a product that customers love and that’s what helps us grow. It gives them something to talk about and share with their friends, either in real life or online, and that’s absolutely the No. 1 reason we’ve grown so quickly.
[I believe that it’s been] word of mouth and friend referrals in the offline world. When someone tries Birchbox for the first time, they just can’t wait to tell their co-workers, family and friends about the fun things they just got. And then social media has been a really big driver of our customer growth. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the beauty blogging community has been incredibly helpful in terms of spreading the word about Birchbox. People love to tweet when their boxes arrive, post pictures of what’s inside and compare what they got versus what their friends—offline and online—received.
How long have you been using social marketing?
We’ve always had a strong social-media presence and have encouraged open discussions.
I think we started tweeting before we even sent out our first box. Our blog was up before our Web page was up. It’s been incredibly important to us from day zero. Mollie has led the charge on that from the beginning.
How many people do you currently employ?
We have 45 employees, with tech being one of our larger teams. But we have many different departments, including the beauty partnerships team, marketing, PR, editorial and operations.
How many brands do you carry?
We have about 150 different brands today, and the favorites are always changing.
Whenever we sample products, those pretty consistently become the most popular brands of the month.
We love that we’re introducing customers to large and small brands, and helping smaller companies start to find their consumer and larger companies find new audiences. That’s definitely a huge part of the service. We’ve had clear favorites in both the huge brands and the very small.
How do you encourage the purchase of full-size products?
Each month along with the sampling we provide descriptions about the products on the website, reasons why the customer should care about the products, and who else loves it—if that’s relevant. All of the information in front of them usually helps customers’ purchasing decisions.
Also, the product ships free if they buy it in the month that it samples, so it encourages customers to take action quickly. So they try the products, decide which they love, go on the site and buy it while it’s being promoted with free shipping. Our customers are usually pretty fast to make decisions.
[Photo caption: Birchbox gives beauty brands access to engaged consumers in a grassroots, yet glossy, environment.]