Jim Duffy: Subscription boxes present the ideal tailored gift

The UK subscription box market is forecast to grow to a whopping �1 billion by 2022, says Duffy. Picture: contributed.
The UK subscription box market is forecast to grow to a whopping �1 billion by 2022, says Duffy. Picture: contributed.
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Buying gifts for people is not an easy endeavour these days. With so much choice it is ­difficult sometimes to work what to buy and who for.

This gets harder the older the potential recipient. Us blokes usually get a bottle of our favourite tipple, socks or a gadget. Of course there is always the easy option – bottle of champagne. But trying to get that something special for someone, while demonstrating that you have made a real and true effort to think it through, takes time and lots of mental energy. Not to mention a few trips to the shops. Help is at hand and it seems very much appreciated by all parties. Viva la subscription box.

The subscription box for those of you who have never come across it, is essentially just that. You pay a monthly subscription for a set period of time. This could be just the one month or up to a year. The box is then curated, packaged and dispatched to whomever and wherever you desire. Most are letterbox friendly, although these days that may not even matter, with so many options for delivery to your place of work or direct to the potential recipient of your gift. It is a bit like the old fashioned, dare I say, glossy magazine subscription, where the magazine of your choice was sent monthly to you or, in my case, my mum, who loved her monthly read.

The size and variety of the subscription box market is big and getting bigger. In the UK, the market is due to grow as much as 72 per cent by 2022. That would be a whopping £1 billion market. Deliveries will rise from an estimated 40 million parcels to more than 65 million. Although still very much in its infancy compared to countries like the US, it is fair to say that we Brits are now waking up to the gifting potential of this market. The beauty of it all is that it is at our fingertips via smartphones, tablets and computers.

So, what is available and what would you gift to others? The range of subscription gift boxes is astonishing. Prices start from about £5 and can rise to £20 or £30 depending on how generous you feel. Many are flexible and allow you to pick and choose the themes you believe the recipient will like. Some include items unavailable on the high street, so it ­produces the feeling of “special” when it arrives. This presents a great method for new start-ups to get their products into consumer hands via subscription boxes. Many start-ups will do it at cost or lost leader status, simply to get going and allow you to sample what they have and hopefully make a future purchase.

Food subscription boxes are hugely popular. So, as most people love food, these are great ideas for gifts. Some will offer ingredients so the recipient can cook that specially crafted, provenance-checked meal with only the best herbs and spices. Some will offer specialised foods such as vegan boxes with new products to try or ingredients for cooking. There are, of course, delicious yummy boxes of cakes and, as you would expect, coffees, so that the gift recipient can have a monthly splurge on tasty coffee and beautifully crafted treats – on you. What a great way to get into their good books. Food offerings also include diet boxes, vitamin boxes, ethical ­boxes and a whole lot more.

Away from food there is a plethora of choice. For the lady in your life, there are beauty ­boxes that offer must-have treats including shampoos, scents and creams. For the man in your life there are male grooming kits, gadgets and, of course, razors. For the pair of you, there are boxes that have speciality gins with matching tonics, beers and ales and a whole host of alcoholic treats. For that more intimate present, there are also sex toy boxes available. The list is endless, from stationary to treats for your dog.

So, the next time you have to buy a gift for anyone in your life at almost any age, the subscription box takes a whole lot of pain away, while offering great choice and relativity. And the best is, you don’t even have to wrap it…

- Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special.