How to Personalize Your Subscription Box Without Screwing Yourself Over



Customized retail experiences are quickly becoming a standard customer expectation, and Subscription Boxes are no exception. From your first customer to your 1 millionth, how do you decide what level of personalization is right for your customers and your business? Between experiments with our box, Bulu Box, and building programs for our "Turnkey Subscription Box" Clients, I’ve put together the quick and dirty 2-step way to determine how personalized your Subscription Box program should get.

Step 1: Trust (and test) your brand promise

I’m a former Mad-Men-wanna-be-advertising-guy-type, so my first stop is always with the brand itself. What is the purpose and promise of your Subscription Box? Bulu Box is a healthy adventure for hard-core, curious health nuts. Full personalization doesn’t make sense in the context of discovery. 


Once upon a time, we tested a "Build-Your-Own-Bulu-Box" (BYOBB ;) program with a set of customers, and they hated it, even though their customer surveys told us they wanted to choose products. Sometimes you have to trust your gut and the brand that you’ve built – sometimes customers get confused about what they really want. As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

If you’re not confident that the customization your offering your subscribers is correct, test it! Try a small launch of a more or less personalized product and take your data to the best minds you can find to understand it. (I’m a big fan of using local university talent – for our test, we partnered with economics professors and data scientists from the University of Nebraska, which is only a few blocks away from our office.)

Step 2. Pick your poison

You know that adage, “Good, Fast and Cheap: Pick Two, you can’t be all Three.” We use a similar spectrum with our boxes and our Turnkey Subscription Box Solutions Clients (see below). This diagram helps our team (and our clients) determine how to build the right amount of personalization into a program within the content of their brand promise and the business model.


Operationally, you want to be aware that the more custom a box is, the longer it takes to build and that costs more money. That includes coordinating the products for each box and physically packing it. Some easy ways to offer personalization that don’t break the bank include predetermined box types and gender-specific shipments.

Predetermined Box Types: As an example, Bulu Box offers a choice of two box types during signup: Original or Weight Loss. Other options could be small breed or large breed, left-handed or right-handed artists, etc.

Gender: Make sure any gender-specific products are delivered to the right customers every time.


So that's the quick and dirty, high-level view of some personalization for your Subscription Box program. If you're in the concept or pivot phase, I know this info can help you!

For more insider info on how we use personalization at Bulu Box, including a deep dive into the (fucking terrible) metrics of our BYOBB program, listen to this webinar I gave with the Subscription Box Trade Association (SUBTA) or download the transcript. 

Got any tips to share on personalization? Drop em below.