Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp said in a recent interview that Birchbox has turned a profit this year after a troubling 2016. A large portion of this growth can be attributed to their haircare business taking off. Those who tried hair care products in Birchbox samples were increasingly returning to the site for full-size products from higher-priced brands. Beauchamp said 17% of all prestige hair care products are sold on Birchbox, and full-size products now account for 35% of the company’s overall business.

Perhaps Birchbox is having a great deal of success with Haircare brands because of their nascent – and in some cases non-existent – sampling practices. L2 research finds that a limited number of brands offer samples on major e-tailers. For example, only a single Haircare brand was observed offering samples to online shoppers each quarter on Nordstrom. Furthermore, brands active on Sephora samples fail to offer deluxe sets, leaving this uncongested market potential goldmine for brands that act quickly.

Living Proof has one of the best sampling practices among Haircare brands assessed and ranked by L2. For starters, it is very well-rounded; samples are offered on the brand site, on social media properties, and several retailers. Furthermore, samples are offered in different manners strategically. For example, the brand site uses samples to incentivize auto-replenishment and bigger baskets, as those who visit the site are most likely second-time customers. Gifts are offered in exchange for email signup to turn interest customers into repeat buyers. Meanwhile, samples offered on social media focus on product trials.


While repeat buyers may not be as incentivized by small amounts of trial products, travel size gifts can give them reason to close the purchase path. Living Proof emails promote travel size products, and data finds that using “travel” in the subject line yields a 3.4% jump in read rates.

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