The benefits of a stationery subscription box./ blog

Having some stationery to hand can be useful. Jotting down that important idea or sending that last minute birthday card.

We have all been there rummaging for paper and a pen. The shop is shut and you need to catch the last post for a birthday card that needs to arrive the next day.

Table of contents 

  • Popularity of subscription boxes
  • Current stationery trends
  • The benefits
  • Do they save money
  • What makes a good stationery box?

 Popularity of subscription boxes

According to a recent Fast Company article, there were 3,500 subscription box services as of October of last year, an increase of 40% from the year before.

While subscription boxes are still a small slice of the overall retail industry, a growing number of consumers are planning to test drive a few. First Insight’s recent survey on subscription boxes, which was featured in USA Today, showed that 25% of respondents (both men and women combined) are currently receiving a subscription box, and another 32% of respondents plan to subscribe in the next six months.  

The idea behind the subscription box itself is a curation of items that would appeal to a particular consumer persona. The curation of the items for the box itself is a highly creative process.  Starting with an inspirational persona based on the theme of the box, each month a story needs to be crafted and told through the items in the box that will not only excite that subscriber but be useful. Because the new subscription box delivers each month, there is the flexibility to curate a wide variety of items and seeing what rises to the top. The psychographic of the subscription box subscriber is someone who is statistically adventurous and appreciates first-to-market options. This allows companies a testing ground for items that are more edgy, new and/or just different - sometimes even original design.  The more the box meets its promise, the better the retention rate as well as referral rate (word of mouth) resulting in new subscribers.


Additionally, the popularity of a particular new item can even spark ideas for new boxes altogether.   While the first subscription models for monthly boxes may have started with clothing and makeup, now subscription boxes reach niche categories, like dog treats, romance novels, cat owners and stationery! In fact, according to a McKinsey study, subscription boxes experienced an explosive growth rate between 2011 and 2016, averaging around 100% annually due to the passion triggered niche approach.

Unpacking a subscription box is like Christmas morning. Research and brain studies suggest that the act of unboxing sends signals to the brain feelings of joy, reward and satisfaction. To be more specific, it affects a deep center of the brain, known as the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area (aka the part that makes you feel good).


Those feelings of joy and surprise are addicting and align perfectly with a monthly experience. Sometimes it’s not even about what is in the box, but the overall experience of it.  The anticipation of receiving the box, the experience of discovery, the ‘trying on’ or trial use of the items and the sharing (or display) of the items with (to) others all play into this psychology.  This can even be seen with the Amazon effect with the some of the most mundane household items that have now become ‘fun’ to shop for due to the promise of the unboxing experience.