How Celebrity Star Power Makes Subscription Commerce Click At Quarterly

/// How Celebrity Star Power Makes Subscription Commerce Click At Quarterly

September 20, 2013  |  Blog

Claire magazine and “Project Runway” judge, as the latest tastemaker to curate products for the company’s subscription service.

Many subscription box businesses, such as the hugely successful Birchbox, rely on the expertise of an in-house editorial team to cull their assortments. Others such as Shoedazzle require members to take a style quiz so the site’s algorithms can tailor selections based on personal preference –with a nudge from celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe.

Quarterly’s concept since its launch in 2011 is for popular personages of all stripes from bloggers to bestselling cookbook authors to dig deep into their milieus and draw out a selection of items (foodstuffs, videos, even a rare –but not dangerous– fungus) to be shipped to subscribers. Members select the personality of their choice (love Four Hour Workweek? Sign up for Tim Ferriss’ health and fitness assortment) and pay between $25 – $100 to receive these collections every three months.

CEO Mitch Lowe maintains that Quarterly’s star contributors are not simply adding their names (and their avid following) to the effort, they are truly involved in the process of curation — a core tenet of the business model. Lowe tells FORBES, “Our team of CTM’s (Contributor Talent Managers) start by learning from the contributor what theme they would like to explore and what items they want to include that tells their story. Our team does, at that point, find vendors and specifications for each item and runs those by the contributor before purchasing. The contributor then writes a letter to the subscriber which explains their theme and how the curated items tell their story.”

The bit about finding vendors is a key piece of the business. If they can’t produce the desired number of items, subscribers are going to be disappointed. It’s something that nearly pushed Quarterly into extinction. That is, until Lowe, a co-founder of Netflix and former Redbox executive took the helm as CEO last year. He was responsible for deploying several strategies including using the same third-party fulfillment company as Redbox to keep those boxes arriving on time.

Lowe demurred when FORBES asked if the privately-held Quarterly was cash flow positive, but Pandodaily reported that the company had more than 8,000 subscribers in June, each plunking down up to $100 for the deliveries.

Says Lowe: “Each package is worth more than what the subscriber has paid and additionally represents the thought and creativity of the contributor they have subscribed to.”

Link: How Celebrity Star Power Makes Subscription Commerce Click At Quarterly

Forbes – Lydia Dishman

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