In this day and age of two-day delivery, packages awaiting you on the front porch may not be as surprising or cause you to do the happy dance like they did before online shopping was even a thing. Even still, most people love the thrill of opening a package that’s been delivered to their doorstep – especially when the contents are a surprise.
It’s probably a safe bet that the founders of the first-ever pet subscription boxes, Birchbox, had no idea how their concept would take off when they started out mailing beauty products a decade ago. Now there are monthly subscriptions for almost anything! From socks to shirts, fruit to wine, and even razors and dog toys – the options are nearly endless! In fact, a survey done by First Insight featured on USA Today showed that in 2019 a whopping 25% of consumers signed up for a subscription box of one type or another.
So are monthly subscription boxes worth all the hype? Do you find yourself wondering if you should be getting one for your pet? Is a box perfect for your pet’s needs, or is hopping in the car and heading to the pet store more your lane? (pun intended) We’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons to help you decide.
The Fun Factor.
Let’s face it, opening a package without knowing the contents is pretty darn exciting. There’s something about the psychology behind the monthly pet subscription boxes: the suspense of waiting for the box building up to the adrenaline rush of finally opening it to reveal its contents – it’s exhilarating! It’s also a perfect unboxing opportunity for all of the influencers out there. Plus, many of the boxes have fun themes that change each month, and it’s fun to see how the items all come together.
Custom Picked Items.
People love “custom.” Buying that “custom” tailored jacket might make you walk a little taller than just grabbing the run-of-the-mill coat off the department store rack. The same goes for a pet subscription boxes filled with custom items tailored to your pet’s size, type, and personality based on questions you answer when you sign up. Another perk is having those customized items chosen for your pet when you don’t know where to start when it comes to treats and toys for your four-legged friend. Pet stores can be fun but also a little overwhelming when trying to decide what to buy. Also, some of the more popular items might be out of stock.
Let’s face it; sometimes it’s just easier to click a button and have it delivered! If you find yourself busy with work, family, or just life in general and don’t have time to hit up the pet store, a box subscription might be the way to go! It could also be a great solution if you don’t enjoy shopping or have a pet store nearby.
Typically the items you’ll receive in your pet subscription boxes will be at a discounted rate compared to if you’d bought them all separately at the pet store. Plus, letting the subscription service pack your box means you’re not tempted to impulse-buy seven extra things while you wait in line at the checkout! We’ve all been there.
Gift for the Human.
If you’re not a pet owner, but you’re looking for a great gift to get for the pet owner in your life, you can check out our full gift list here. A subscription box could be just the ticket if you are looking for the gift that keeps on giving! Maybe you’re far away from your friend with a pet pal. A box could be a great way to make her smile as she thinks of you when she opens your gift each month.
Gift for the Pet.
What better way to spoil fluffy than with brand new toys and tasty treats every single month? It’s an excellent option to help you see what sort of toys and treats are available without spending ages wandering aisles in the store. A subscription box also offers you a chance to bond with your pet pal and reminds you to get some good old fashioned screen-free playtime in. While your serotonin is boosted through playtime with your pet, he’s getting the exercise and attention he needs too – win-win!
Going in public and “people-ing” isn’t fun for everyone. Just the thought of driving, standing in an aisle with endless choices, and being around others can be anxiety-inducing. It kind of takes the fun out of an experience that is supposed to be enjoyable. Your pet would never want you to go if it meant you would feel depleted entirely afterward. We are sure of it! Add a pandemic to the mix, and Fido gets to see if he can dig a little deeper for the remaining fluff out of squeaky squirrels a-lot. Subscription boxes can be a fantastic option for pet owners who struggle with anxiety and social situations.
Little (if any) Control.
If you’re the type that prefers your pet to have just the right toys to match your home decor, a subscription box might not be for you. Or if you prefer to avoid a specific type of toy (like the squeaky ones), there’s usually not much control over what you get in the box. You could end up stuck with stuff that isn’t your style or even amusing to your pet. Some subscriptions will allow a free exchange each month, but that may end up being more hassle than it’s worth.
Sure, the items that come in the box may be cheaper than if you bought them individually. But would you buy all those items in the first place? A monthly box may end up leaving you up to your eyeballs in toys! Not only that, but will Rex eat through three bags of treats each month? If you only give him one a day, you’ll end up with way too much. Another factor is the cost – $25 a month may not seem like much, but that’s $300 a year. And that’s the low-end of the cost spectrum for a subscription box. Would you spend that much on only treats and toys every year?
In a completely unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances on social media, many reported that the toys were cheaply made and/or easily chewed through. It’s hard to know if you’re getting what you pay for. Is it going to end up looking like Twister part 3 in your living room after fifteen minutes of playtime? Or will the ingredients in the treats be up to your standards… or fluffy’s taste? Maybe allergies prevent your pet from being able to indulge in the treatos. That’s a sad day for everyone.
Ever tried to terminate your gym membership? I’m not saying leaving the subscription box would be quite that difficult, but one thing these companies count on is the ‘set it and forget it’ feature of a monthly subscription plan. How likely are you to call, email, or log in to cancel the box if you’re finding it doesn’t meet your needs?
So, should you take the plunge? Unfortunately, only you can decide that one. But here’s a checklist that might help with your decision.
❏ Will you (or fluffy) use the items?
❏ Does your pet have food sensitivities or toy preferences?
❏ How does the cost of the box compare to retail?
❏ Do you like going to the store and picking things out?
❏ Will it end up being more than you need?
❏ How easy (or difficult) is it to cancel?
Hopefully, this list has helped you decide if a subscription box is right for you and your pet. If you’ve decided to sign up, now it’s time to choose the best box. Urban Tastebud did a round-up of 25 pet boxes that you can check out here. They’ve included boxes for dogs, cats, horses, and even chickens! Yes, there’s a subscription box for chicken owners!