I have a sticky relationship with beauty boxes – I don’t generally like them and I rarely feature them. I’ve been sent them at various times, but I don’t write about them on here because there always seems to be a heap of twitter politics and reports of bad customer service associated with the phenomena.
I have made a couple of exceptions though… before I started blogging, I signed up for the inaugural Latest In Beauty box (which was £1 at the time – I have no idea how much it costs now), and I got a bunch of samples in return for a text message. It was novel, quirky, and introduced me to some great brands. When LiB released their CEW winners box, I felt that it represented great value for money, and similarly, when Selfridges compiled their one-off special, again, it seemed to offer something different to the rest. Having said that, with hindsight, they released a woefully small amount considering the demand. Major bug bear.
So, why am I talking about this one? Well… because it offers something different and I, for the life of me, cannot decide if it’s the biggest waste of money I’ve ever seen.
The Fragrance Shop. A high street chain with 135 stores nationwide… definitely not some startup jumping on the wagon, has announced their “Discovery Club”. You pay £5 a quarter (fair enough, it’s not expensive), and in return, will receive a box containing five fragrance samples and a booklet of deals offering discount vouchers on the fragrances included in the box, should you like them enough to purchase the full-size. Of course, the vouchers are only valid for use at The Fragrance Shop.
The problem I have with this venture is that fragrance samples are the last vestige of beauty sampling on the high street. Have you seen how hard it’s become to get a sample of anything on counter that hasn’t been released in the last month? Sample quotas are incredibly tight in the beauty world… which is absolutely crazy when you consider the UK’s non-existent refund policy and how completely necessary it is to trial a foundation outside of a beauty department’s skewy lighting.
Fragrance, has always been so much easier when it comes to sampling. My goodness me, the last time I bought a couple of bottles of perfume, I came away with more actual volume in sample vials than I did in the bottle I bought… ok, slight exaggeration, but you know what I’m trying to say.
Perhaps if The Fragrance Shop were offering niche samples (isn’t that what the whole Beauty Box thing is supposed to be about?) rather than the kind you can pick up in Boots if you smile sweetly enough, I’d be more on board with this idea. It would save me a fortune in postage from LuckyScent and I’d happily pay more per quarter for sure.
Having said that, let me play devil’s advocate (with myself) for a moment… a quick look on eBay reveals that these samples, despite being mainstream… would easily cost more than £5 to acquire if you aren’t local to the kind of big stores that carry a wide fragrance selection. It’s horses for courses isn’t it, and at this time of year – £5 discount vouchers off bestselling perfume isn’t something to be sniffed at is it? (sorry.)
I must admit, I’m not familiar with The Fragrance Shop’s sampling policy instore, but if there is/was one, I bet it’s not quite so relaxed now that their Discovery Club has come to fruition!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Discovery Club – is it something you would treat yourself to once a quarter, or would you rather spritz instore and ask the counter for fragrance samples?
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club is available to join now and costs £5 per box with no ongoing commitment, boxes are delivered every quarter.
* press sample