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Trick or Treat? Neiman Marcus Mystery Box Sells Out
By: Maryann Fabian
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“Will women shell out $250 for mystery products?” Adweek asked. The answer is most definitely yes. Within hours of its debut, PopSugar shoppers scarfed up all of the mystery boxes available online with a promise that they were filled with goodies from Neiman Marcus. Only they won’t find out until November 17, when the box ships, whether it’s filled with tricks or treats.

The Neiman Marcus/PopSugar holiday subscription box sold for $250 a “pop.” The only hints leaked about its contents were that it contains 8 items valued at over $600. They were selected by PopSugar founder Lisa Sugar and NM fashion director Ken Downing. We know one is a chevron throw plus there are items from Jonathan Adler and Le Métier de Beauté. According to Sugar, “Our audience really loves the element of surprise.”

The monthly subscription box biz is hot. Remember the old book-of-the-month club? Or the Columbia House Record Club (where you could get 12 records “free” by taping a penny to a postcard for shipping and handling)? It’s sorta like that. Only now there are dozens of players. And it’s a great way to get new products into the hands of consumers and get them talking about it. Lots of box recipients blog about what’s inside or hit social media to discuss. Specialty box businesses range from all beauty product boxes to eco-friendly boxes to pet product boxes and travel boxes. There are even Cannabox and X-rated boxes of surprise goodies. While most are geared toward women, there are some especially for men and kids. PopSugar regularly sells a $35-a-month subscription box described as “hand-selected items in fashion, home, fitness and food. It’s kinda like a love letter from Brad, George or Matt.” ($35 for sweet talk from George? Sign me up!)

There are so many subscription boxes available now that there are websites dedicated to user reviews of them, such as Subscription Boxes and My Subscription Addiction. As you find from a quick glance of these sites, boxes can be hit or miss. One company that I subscribed to, and is out of business now, sent a $15 box with the theme, “Girls' Night In.” It was supposed to have a value double that price. It had Knorr soup packets, a sample of Sally Hansen press-on nails, and a paperback. Uhh, no thanks.

Neiman Marcus has now become the first fashion retailer to get in the subscription box business. Let’s see how it’s received on November 17. How many of the products will go straight to eBay? And will NM inspire a new retail trend? Can a Walmart box be far behind?

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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