Rue La La announced Monday it’s partnering with Conde Nast's Allure magazine for a series of themed beauty boxes featuring 13 summer beauty essentials in the first box, according to a company press release.
The boxes will contain makeup, nail lacquer, dry shampoo, moisturizer and other items curated by Allure's beauty experts and the online membership boutique retailer's beauty buyers, in a mix of travel and full sizes, the company said.
The co-branded series consists of three boxes: the first for summer, the second for fall and the third for the holiday season, the companies said. The limited-edition series will be available for purchase on its website. Each is $39.99, and upon purchasing the June box, members will be automatically enrolled to purchase the next two boxes.
On days when beauty sales run on the Rue La La site, they sell out in record time, the company said on Monday, a sign of the strength of the beauty category in general and more specifically an increasing consumer willingness to buy beauty items online. The growing category could provide the online membership-based retailer with a path to sales in the wake of the slump of its original flash-sales approach.
"Beauty is one of the fastest-growing categories for Rue La La," Jeff Steeves, Rue La La SVP of marketing, said in a statement. "Our members expect the hottest, newest and best product on the market — so connecting with Allure to curate these boxes is invaluable and the perfect way to give our members exactly what they crave."
That shift in attitude is driven by demographics and influence via social media, according to a recent survey from A.T. Kearney of 800 women who have shopped for beauty products online at least once in the past 12 months. The global strategy and management consulting firm has conducted the study every two years since 2012. Some 47% of the study’s respondents have done more online shopping for beauty products this year than they did last year, and 66% of those who shop online for beauty products say they actually prefer the online experience to in-store interactions.
In 2015, the industry that built its historic success on providing consumers with the in-store opportunity to touch, smell and sample products saw $6.2 billion, or almost 8% of its sales take place online — a full 1% more than in 2013, according to the study. There are essentially three types of online beauty shoppers, according to the report: 55% are “online enthusiasts,” very comfortable shopping for most beauty items online, but they do shop in stores; 36% are “information seekers who conduct research online but prefer in-store shopping; and 9% are “showroomers” who go to stores to test products but prefer to make their purchases decisions and conduct their purchases online.
The Rue La La-Allure tie-up is a challenge to Birchbox, which arguably innovated the box approach when it entered the market at a time when beauty was solidly a brick-and-mortar play. While shoppers got their samples and testers from department store counters staffed by representatives of major brands, Birchbox seized on the chance to connect with customers online, devising the idea of a monthly shipment of sample collections.
The idea was a hit, though its initial brush with success inevitably attracted competitors, including the likes of big-name brick-and-mortar competitor Sephora, rival beauty subscription service Ipsy (which outpaces Birchbox with 1.5 million subscribers) and even Target. Those pressures conspired to stall Birchbox's expansion into overseas markets, led to the dismissal of 80 of its 300 employees, and ultimately threatened its ability to fill its monthly curated boxes.