Expert Insight: How Birchbox's Inclusive Rebrand Helps It Connect With Purpose-Driven Consumers
The subscription box is making self-care more accepting with genderless categories that promote inclusivity and naturally attract consumers like Gen Zers who look for mission-driven brands
•Birchbox, one of the original subscription boxes, recently updated its branding to make its categories much more inclusive: Beauty and Grooming instead of Women's and Men's.
•Gen Z, much more than previous generations, is comprised of consumers—even ones who do not identify as gender nonbinary—who often prefer their products to be genderless.
•PSFK chatted with Kima Cooper, Birchbox's director of social media & content, and Amanda Tolleson, chief customer officer, to discover how the company's commitment to diversity, both internally and externally, is making the company friendlier to purpose-driven consumers.
PSFK: You renamed your site navigation last year after receiving some feedback from a gender-nonconforming customer, going from Women’s and Men’s to Beauty and Grooming. Why was it important to you to address this feedback?
Amanda Tolleson: It’s critical to focus on staying relevant in a modern world and allow your brand to flex and be fluid. Beauty is a progressive industry, and we realized we had a lot of work to do to catch up with consumer expectations of brands in today’s climate—not to mention we wanted to align the user experience with our own core values as a company.
Now you've rebranded BirchboxMan as Birchbox Grooming. What was behind this shift?
Amanda Tolleson: From a company values perspective, it’s about building an inclusive home that welcomes all types of customers interested in grooming products. We believe that you shouldn’t modify a brand name with human qualifiers (like “man”) that express a limitation on the type of people that should buy your product. Unless, of course, that’s truly the intent. We offer beauty products and we offer grooming products, but our perspective is that anyone can shop either category; we don’t want our brand name to dictate who’s allowed to shop grooming.
Many of the beauty-related images on Birchbox's social channels feature female-presenting people. Do you have any plans to broaden representation in the beauty space as well?
Kima Cooper: Inclusivity on our social channels is so important to us, and we’ve started to cast a wider net of people. We have a dedicated “B Team,” which is made up of staff members who share their beauty and grooming picks in various social posts while educating our customers about the products. For example, one of our male staffers on the B Team was featured wearing eye masks.
We’ll also tap members outside of our company to be featured. During Pride month, we had a few members from the LGBTQ community take over our Instagram stories, in which they showed our customers several ways to get beauty and grooming ready for Pride. Most recently, we launched our “You” campaign that leverages a wide range of storytelling and content about self-care. The campaign video manifesto shows a cast of real people of all ages, ethnicities and gender identities spending their much-needed you-time in the mirror.
We know that members of Gen Z in particular are more likely to identify as non-binary and/or reject binary norms in products. How are you connecting with this new generation of consumers?
Amanda Tolleson: Birchbox focuses on reaching a certain psychographic rather than a particular demographic, like Gen Z. We’re focused on “casual” beauty and grooming consumers, who are driven by purpose, not passion, when shopping in the category.
That said, we know Gen Z is drawn to mission-driven brands that share their same values, and we’re committed to showing our depth as a company. We’re leveraging partnerships, content and events to take a stand for issues, moments and groups that we support. Most recently, we collaborated with Out magazine and its editor-in-chief Phillip Picardi to curate our June boxes for beauty and grooming, and we sponsored Out’s Pride celebration.
How does the notion of inclusivity support your overall brand mission and business goals?
Amanda Tolleson: Inclusivity is a company-wide priority at Birchbox, it’s a focus for the industry as a whole, and it’s something that beauty and grooming consumers are demanding across all types of players: retailers, brands, media. Our leadership and employees feel passionately about making real, impactful change, and we’re committed to going beyond what might be asked of the beauty industry.
Lead image: Birchbox