On the first day of one of my journalism classes back at university the professor asked us each to name our media guilty pleasure. Most of my classmates said Perezhilton.com, because his site was super popular back then, and I believe I said Dave Barry’s blog. But if I had to answer the question again now, I’d probably say blogs that involve people photographing and reviewing the items they received in their subscription boxes.
Confession: I am obsessed with subscription boxes.
Confession #2: I have never actually received a subscription box.
Subscription boxes are all the rage now. They make them for beauty products, snacks, baby products, jewelry, candles, games, underwear — basically anything that can be packed into a box and shipped out every month for a monthly or yearly fee. I’ve always been intrigued by them, but I never subscribed to them, mostly because of my bi-continental lifestyle. Birchbox, the leading makeup and beauty products subscription box, launched in the UK, but I couldn’t convince myself to join. I liked looking at the items inside (see above about subscription box blogs), but knew I wouldn’t use half of them, and my makeup counter is already cluttered as it is. And then while reading one of my guilty pleasure subscription box review blogs, I came upon Degustabox — a monthly surprise food and drink subscription box for people in the UK. I love surprises! And food & drink! And most importantly, because I love food & drink, I would likely eat everything in the box so there’d be no waste and counter clutter.
I immediately signed up under the introductory offer. A whole box of food and drink surprises for £5.99 was a deal I couldn’t pass up. Unfortunately I signed up at the beginning of March so I had to wait 3 weeks for my first box to arrive. When it did, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Because this is what subscription boxes are really about — not so much the actual goods inside, although those are, well, good, but the surprise of it all — what will I get?! It reminded me of my childhood trading card collecting days. The cards themselves didn’t matter as much as the what-cards-will-I-get? anticipation.
The box came with a handy sheet describing each product and listing its retail price.
All the items in my box had a total retail value of £21.49 — not bad for £5.99, or even £12.99, the normal price of the box.
But here’s the thing about subscription boxes — they’re only a good value if you actually use all the products and would consider buying them if you hadn’t just received them in the box. There were things in the box that we tore through immediately, like the brioche, crisps, popcorn, rice cakes and Lindt bunny. There are other things that I will eat because I have them, but would never go out and explicitly buy them, like the stuffing and meze to go. So if I were calculating whether I got my £5.99 or £12.99 money’s worth, I wouldn’t include those items. Because I only spent £5.99 I got a good deal, but I’m not sure £12.99 is worth it. However, I think I’ll keep my Degustabox subscription for the next few months, if only because I love the surprise so much (and the food).