Mysterious Boxes Make Noteworthy Marketing Tools

Posted on by Patty Odell

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions like exercising more or taking better care of our skin or taking a daily dose of cocoa extract supplement to help support cardiovascular health. Well, that last one may not be what all people are thinking, but Mars Botanical would like us to and that’s why it has included a sample of its CocaVia in one of the latest Craveboxes called “Resolutions.”

Cravebox is a new product discovery service that delivers themed, curated boxes with four-to-six unique finds relevant to the recipients’ interests, occasions and activities. The products are shrouded in mystery, identified only by theme. Cravebox members enter a drawing to win a slot for one of the limited shipments, which average around 3,300 and cost between $10 and $15. There’s also mystery in why consumers would shell out up to $15 to buy a box of unknown products.

“This whole category of discovery commerce it’s very prominent right now,” Kitty Kolding, chief executive officer of Cravebox, said. “It’s also very crowded, I wanted to build a powerful marketing tool that was fun, not hugely expensive and a way for consumers to run across products that they may not have otherwise. I felt like if we got it right, the consumers would be happy and willing to pay.”

And they have been. The number of people who raise their hands to get a shipment is about three-to-five times the available number of boxes. The drawing for “Resolutions” is about to open and that box is also packed with 7-Up and S&W Ten from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, TimeWise Eye Repair Cream from Mary Kay; HJ Heinz’s Smart Ones, Wholly Guacamole, Hain Celestial tea packettes, SunRype Fruit Nutrition Bars and Abbott Nutrition Zone Perfect Bars. “Resolutions” joins four other boxes shipping this month: “David’s Bridal,” “Winter Favorites,” “Teen Time” and “Dog Lovers.” The boxes are also themed around a specific retailer or entertainment property.

How it works

There is a sequence of events that take place for each Cravebox. The box is promoted to a group of members and others who, if have not already, register with Cravebox to enter the drawing to win one of the boxes offered throughout the year that cross a wide range of categories including, health and beauty, kids, family, home, hobbies, pets and recreation. Members submit a wide range of demographic, attitudinal and behavioral information, which is mined to determine a good match for each of the Craveboxes.

Cravebox’s several hundred thousand female members are notified when each new box is available through a variety of social and traditional platforms, and have several days to enter a drawing for a slot. If their entry is selected, the member is notified immediately, charged, and receives the shipment in about two weeks. Participating manufacturers, retailers and media properties also use their own resources to market the boxes. For example, Time Inc.’s Cooking Light magazine advertised its 2,000 Craveboxes to its digital audience in November and may run some print ads for future boxes. More than 32 million impressions were tracked through, Twitter and Facebook. Martha Stewart Inc. did the same. David’s Bridal, which ships this week, is giving the boxes as a gift to brides purchasing gowns in its stores. Inside, brides-to-be will find Vitabath Body Wash, P&G Pantene Moisture Whip Shampoo, Jergens Glow Moisturizing Tanner and J&J Motrin PM.

“We work through our media and retailer partnerships to grow membership,” Kolding said.

It’s expensive to create and ship the boxes and to make them trackable. The consumer fees cover postage and make the service affordable for the brand, Kolding said.

The social connection

Once the boxes are shipped, two weeks of social-based promotions kick in to drive viral sharing and create excitement for new memberships. People who received the boxes are offered gifts and other incentives to encourage them to get out into their social communities and talk up the Cravebox. Social promotions include retweet contests, twitter parties and Pinterest and Facebook activations. A Nov. 12 Twitter party for the Cooking Light Cravebox recorded 302 people, 4,800 tweets with a reach of 681,653.

“What we’re trying to do is activate all platforms on whatever these consumers are most comfortable with to take about the box,” Kolding said.

Metrics are provided to each participating customer that include demographics, reach, impressions, engagement, lift in brand consideration, intent to recommend, purchase intent and brand awareness. Pre- and post-surveys are conducted that include attitudinal and behavioral questions, as well as time spent with the products and box. A series of social media measurement tools are also used to track impressions and reach.

Cravebox was founded on “a lot of experimentation” before becoming a stand-alone company last March.



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