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Birchbox Grooms New Service for Guys

Online shopping and sampling service for women's beauty products expands service to men

Birchbox co-founders Katia Beauchamp (l.) and Hayley Barna.

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Indulging male vanity has never been more en vogue. So it’s no wonder that subscription-based e-commerce startup Birchbox—a company originally launched to guide the fairer sex to new beauty products—is jumping on the trend by extending its services to men beginning today.

Similar to the company’s flagship product for females, the new Birchbox Man service will offer subscribers a personalized monthly box of premium samples, as well as an online store and editorial content. But in addition to grooming products, the $20-a-month men’s box will also come stocked with lifestyle items like watches, socks and tech accessories.

Over the past couple of years, other companies such as Manpacks and ForMen2 have sprung up to satisfy the growing men’s shopping market. But while those companies tend to focus on replenishment, Birchbox’s goal is to drive discovery, said Birchbox co-CEO Katia Beauchamp.

“It might be uncomfortable for a man to walk into a traditional beauty space and shop,” she said. “We [can] be a great solution to that.” Men get the convenience of having products delivered by mail, and they can experiment with them in the private, low-pressure environment of their own homes.

More than 100,000 subscribers have signed up with Birchbox since it started in 2010 as a shopping service for women. It’s also attracted more than 200 brands that sample with Birchbox to goose product sales and brand awareness.

“We’ve seen the amount of viral buzz and press we’re getting through Birchbox and the [online] haul videos of their customers,” said Danielle Rose, manager of e-commerce and interactive marketing for luxury hair care company Kérastase, which doesn’t do any paid advertising.

Men may not be rushing to YouTube to gush about their new favorite face moisturizer. But Iva Pawling, co-founder of sock company Richer Poorer, thinks there’s still a good chance they’ll talk up the other products that they find in their Birchbox.

“Men can no longer really get away...with being the guy that doesn’t care about his products and what he wears,” she said.

Beauchamp said the company will be playing close attention to how guys gab about their manly goodies.

She also added the introduction of more Birchbox verticals is possible now that it has a better back-end infrastructure. “You could have a Birchbox for beauty and a Birchbox for men,” she said. “[And] a Birchbox for who knows what else.”