Lifestyle subscription services for everything from flowers to toothbrushes and socks are on the rise, reports Josie Steenhart.
For many years the only subscriptions New Zealanders signed up for were for newspapers and magazines. But in the last few years, with our increasingly busy lives and the advent of the internet, more and more of us are embracing the concept of receiving all kinds of lifestyle-related goods on the regular.
From hard-to-find beers and fresh flowers you get to arrange yourself to handmade mugs, coffee beans, socks and toothbrushes, sales are booming for boutique businesses prepared to deliver.
We talked to six cool Kiwi subscription companies about what they offer and why this increasingly popular business model works so well.
The fresh blooms THE FLOWER PROJECT
Delivering Auckland-wide since May 2015, The Flower Project is an initiative founded by florist Kathryn Fleming and her brother Luke Bradley.
Fleming, who through her florist business Boudica Flowers already supplies the flowers to Farro Fresh’s five stores, visits the Auckland flower markets three times a week to buy buckets of blooms for both businesses. She can get fresh flowers at the best possible price – a benefit that can be can be passed on to Flower Project subscribers.
Subscribers can select from three sizes of arrangements, which can be delivered to their door on Monday, Wednesday or Friday; weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Perhaps the most unique and popular element of The Flower Project’s offering is that the flowers and foliage arrive well-wrapped but unarranged, so aspiring home florists have the opportunity to get creative and assemble their floral lucky dip however they please.
Each delivery comes with information about the day’s flower selection, and subscribers also get access to Fleming’s expert advice via videos, blog posts and e-newsletters. “The whole idea came about from my brother,” says Fleming. “He could see a huge gap in the market for a subscription flower service and had seen the model work in other countries.
“Right from the outset we wanted it to be different from anything anyone else had done.”
The freshly roasted coffee beans KOKAKO
Kokako Coffee officially launched its coffee-bysubscription offering at the end of 2016.
Auckland-based Kokako, which has been roasting coffee for more than 15 years, had already trialled the subscription idea over the past few years, but marketing coordinator Olivia Coote says it was “a clunky, pay-it-all-in-advance-style” offering.
“Once we were able to charge each week, every two weeks or once a month, we refined our choices and let them loose on the public.”
They now offer four subscription choices – blends, single origin, decaf or a “lucky dip”, which come as whole beans or ground for a plunger, filter or espresso brews – all with compostable or recyclable packaging.
“Our most popular by a mile is the lucky dip,” says Coote, “and we think that’s because you can treat your palate each week with something new – perhaps something you might not normally choose for yourself.
“Every now and then we add in a little surprise or notes to each customer, which makes the deliveries more personal.
According to Coote, another perk is saving up to 18 per cent, versus a typical online coffee purchase, “as the cost of the coffee and courier are bundled”.
And as well as the fun of receiving something in the mail, it’s the convenience that appeals to their customers.
“A lot of New Zealand households drink coffee every day, if not a few times a week, and not having to remember to restock the pantry is very convenient.”
Coote says this kind of subscription model can make it easier to launch a business or service – “especially if you have a compelling offering that is not widely available in retail stores.
“Providing a specialty coffee subscription to customers all over New Zealand means they no longer need to live around the corner from a roastery or good café to get access to great coffee.”
“Every now and then we add in a little surprise or notes to each customer, which makes the deliveries more personal.”