In August, subscribers will find a Google Cardboard viewer in their box and an invite to watch four 90-second branded video clips via iPhone or Android apps. Working with VR company River, the four experiences are diverse: people surfing inside a wave, motorbiking on dirt terrain, taking a helicopter ride and driving a race car.
“This is a way to get people to understand the technology in a different way and have an experience that’s unique and memorable,” said Brad Lande, GM Birchbox Man, in Adweek. “The juxtaposition between the Cardboard—which is a very basic technology—and how immersive this feels is a great opportunity to put in the box.”
Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp made the announcement yesterday at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech stage in Aspen, Colorado, explaining that “content is actually the momentum and driver of purchase,” as reported by Fortune. VR, she added, “is something we have to understand in a very intimate way. We want Birchbox to always stand for discovery.”
Pushing VR content in an intimate and immersive way via direct mail may be the perfect recipe for mainstream adoption. That said, Birchbox is hedging its virtual bets and last year opened its first brick-and-mortar store in the SoHo section of Manhattan.
This summer, members are voting for three US cities for pop-up shops, dubbed the Birchbox and Birchbox Man Road Trip, and running August 7 through 29. Birchbox will open two permanent stores in 2016 depending on how those pop-up shops perform.
Birchbox has also partnered with Gap to open pop-up shops in seven flagship Gap locations including San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, plus three in New York. Each had a “subscription wall” to order a three-month Birchbox subscription (custom or curated) and take a first box home that day.
“We’re obsessed with our subscribers and they’re constantly asking for Birchbox to come to their cities, so we’re listening and letting them guide the next phase of our offline retail strategy,” said Beauchamp, in a press release. “Our offline customers have a higher lifetime value with us online, so for us, this isn’t just another cute pop-up—it’s a serious step toward further retail expansion and a way for us to test the waters in new markets.”
Birchbox, which launched in 2010 for women and expanded to Birchbox Man ($20 per box) in 2012, now claims more than 1 million subscribers. The brand reports that with more than 800 brands to choose from, 50 percent of subscribers buy a full-size product online after sampling.
Once their subscriber base adopts Google Cardboard, Birchbox “can continue to offer VR content and test its relevance with this group, which can be extremely valuable,” said Adrian Slobin, global innovation lead at SapientNitro, in Adweek.