• Deanna Utroske

Is mail-order science the future of beauty formulation innovation?

Beauty boxes and direct-mail discovery kits are as relevant as ever—for not only consumer brands but for ingredient suppliers and product manufacturers too.



Makeup and Personal Care Brands Reach Consumers via Beauty Box Subscriptions

Consumer-facing subscription boxes like the Test Tube from NewBeauty Magazine, the Allure Beauty Box, BeautyFIX by Dermstore.com, the Ipsy Glam Bag and the Glam Bag Plus and many others continue to do well with consumers.


And there’s space in the market for new comers too. Meredith Corporation’s SHAPE Magazine launched its Beauty Lab Box in November 2020 and just announced a summer edition of the box created in partnership with 21 brands, including SeneGence, invisibobble, BeautyStat, CeraVe, and Hello. Agnes Chapski, Vice President, Group Publisher of In Style, Health, and SHAPE Magazine explains that “The Beauty Lab Box delivers just what our audience is hungry for: the joy of discovering vetted, editor-approved products to keep them at the forefront of what's trending.”


And Chloe Takahashi of the ecommerce site CosmeHunt.com has just launched the J-beauty Discovery Box, showcasing brands from Japan like & Honey, Kiss Me, and PASO A PASO.


Through the end of July, the J-beauty Discovery Box is crowdfunding on IndieGoGo in an effort to not only put more dollars behind the venture but also to increase awareness of brands from Japan and the J-beauty Discovery Box offerings.


But what’s happening on the supply side of the beauty industry is perhaps even more interesting.


Cosmetic Scientists Get Direct Mail from Beauty Ingredient Suppliers and Manufacturers

Consumer-facing subscription boxes like the Test Tube from NewBeauty Magazine, the Allure Beauty Box, BeautyFIX by Dermstore.com, the Ipsy Glam Bag and the Glam Bag Plus and many others continue to do well with consumers.


And there’s space in the market for new comers too. Meredith Corporation’s SHAPE Magazine launched its Beauty Lab Box in November 2020 and just announced a summer edition of the box created in partnership with 21 brands, including SeneGence, invisibobble, BeautyStat, CeraVe, and Hello. Agnes Chapski, Vice President, Group Publisher of In Style, Health, and SHAPE Magazine explains that “The Beauty Lab Box delivers just what our audience is hungry for: the joy of discovering vetted, editor-approved products to keep them at the forefront of what's trending.”


And Chloe Takahashi of the ecommerce site CosmeHunt.com has just launched the J-beauty Discovery Box, showcasing brands from Japan like & Honey, Kiss Me, and PASO A PASO.


Through the end of July, the J-beauty Discovery Box is crowdfunding on IndieGoGo in an effort to not only put more dollars behind the venture but also to increase awareness of brands from Japan and the J-beauty Discovery Box offerings.


But what’s happening on the supply side of the beauty industry is perhaps even more interesting.


Cosmetic Scientists Get Direct Mail from Beauty Ingredient Suppliers and Manufacturers

Specialty chemical companies and contract manufacturers have been developing collections of product prototypes or starter formulas for years and years.


Depending on a company’s strategy, these collections will highlight new ingredient technology, showcase novel texture capabilities, or feature proprietary trends data and marketing stories that promise to captivate end consumers.


Until 2020, most of these product prototype collections were used as sales collateral during in-person meetings and at tradeshows around the world.


“We normally prefer to present prototypes in person,” commented Dennis Abbeduto, Personal Care Manager at Colonial Chemical, in response to a recent post that I made here on LinkedIn. “Prior to the pandemic, we mostly sent our prototypes per request,” he said and added that Colonial Chemical “had a specific campaign that resulted in sending some out proactively during the pandemic…. and will likely have more ‘push’ campaigns in the future.”


And this is what I am seeing and hearing from suppliers and manufacturers at large.


In 2020, specialty chemical supplier Azelis began sending out quarterly beauty boxes to showcase that company’s ingredient capabilities; and as Helen Hill, Personal Care Marketing Manager for Azelis in the EMEA region commented, “it was something we had been planning before COVID as a better way of showcasing the wide range of formulations developed in our labs.” And, she says, “We will probably continue to do this even once face-to-face visits are back.”


Trend collections and market-ready prototypes from beauty manufacturers like Cosmetica or MANA Products tend to be more fully developed and reminiscent of what consumers are used to seeing on the shelf.


And in recent months, I’ve noticed formulators posting unboxing videos of these prototype collections like the beauty world has become accustomed to seeing from consumer influencers.


Pandemic Protocols Changed Beauty Industry Business Practices

But it’s not just suppliers and manufacturers that are reaching product develop experts and formulating chemists with these mailings, consultancies and professional organizations are sending out beauty discovery boxes too:


The Canadian Cosmetics Cluster, for instance, launched ChemBox at the start of June. ChemBox is a monthly subscription that delivers 10 ingredient samples, formulation samples and guides, as well as 5 product packaging samples to community members in Canada and in the US.


Industry-facing beauty discovery boxes are just one more example of how COVID-19 precautions and the acceleration of remote networking are changing the way business is transacted in the cosmetics and personal care industry.


Thank you for watching! I will see you next time on #duviews.



Want to stay up to date on the latest news and trends?

Subscribe to Beauty Insights from Deanna Utroske today!




this DUviews item was originally posted to LinkedIn and now appears on DeannaUtroske.com