Christmas every month: A look at Subscription Box Services

The subscription box is a spin on the subscription business model that, generally, has subscribers receive a box filled with specific items on a monthly basis. These items are tailored to various niches that these businesses decide to target. The first subscription box, Birchbox, began life in 2010 sending subscribers cosmetics such as perfumes and make-up. This business went on to be valued at $485 million in only four years.

Naturally, more and more subscription boxes sprung to action, targeting more niche markets that had not been catered to. Some popular examples include Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, Five Four Club, and numerous other businesses that honed in on a target market and capitalized on the potential. The appeal of the subscription box is that any person with an idea can create a business catered directly to the consumer. Sarah Michelle Gellar, an actress known for roles such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, co-founded Foodstirs, a subscription box service aimed at the bakers of the world.

As spoken by Mrs. Gellar herself, businesses do have to be wary of shipping and getting their product to their consumers. A late delivery is undoubtedly high on the list of ways to alienate a consumer with this type of product.

I chose to dive into this rising business model by opting to try out LootCrate. Being that I like video games and various “geek culture” aspects, LootCrate made perfect sense to try out the business model for myself. My first LootCrate arrived on the first day of the estimated arrival dates (2/20-2/28), so delivery was fast and without issues. The box had a design befitting the theme of the month (each month has a unique theme, February’s being the dead), and the items were fitting and interesting. Below are some pictures of what my first LootCrate contained. Overall, I am pleased with the contents and will stay a faithful LootCrate subscriber. I also intend to try out other services, such as a clothing based service.

 

Subscription box services are still in the infancy of their lives, having began life a mere six years ago. However, if there is a market to be found and a good product to be delivered, subscription boxes have a long life ahead.

 

Sources:

Slade, H., (2014, June 2). The Pitch That Launched Birchbox, The $485M  ‘Stuff In A Box’ Business. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/hollieslade/2014/06/02/the-pitch-that-launched-birchbox-the-485m-stuff-in-a-box-business/#243990fb339b

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Video Streaming into the Future with Periscope

periscope

Video sharing has become a far more prevalent feature than in the early years of social media. With Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram, making and sharing videos is more popular than ever. One particular app, Periscope, was created with video streaming at the forefront. Created by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein because Beykpour wanted to be able to see the protests in Istanbul (back in 2013) instead of merely reading about them on Twitter, Periscope has only officially been available since March 26, 2015. In a mere four months, the app had amassed ten million accounts who were watching over forty years of video a day. Last December, Periscope was also named the iPhone App of the Year. Periscope seems poised to enter the lives of many more socially conscious consumers in the coming years.

Ronald McDonald House can definitely capitalize on this up-and-coming video streaming app, sort of being “ahead of the game.” RMHC could have employees, volunteers, and guests alike use Periscope to give virtual tours of establishments, show exciting events currently happening, or even to interact with other RMHC people across the globe. Here is an example of a tour being given of the RMHC Family Room, a waiting room at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Another example of possible Periscope usage would be the upcoming Brunch Around event. This fundraising event consists of RMHC partnering with the various wonderful, local restaurants of Morgantown, such as Table9, Iron Horse Tavern, and Terra Cafe. People attend these restaurants as always, with a small percentage of total earnings being donated to RMHC. The event is fun, beneficial, and a great way to discover some delicious food that is often forgotten amidst the many chain restaurants present in today’s society. People affiliated with RMHC can use Periscope, in conjunction with Twitter, to spread the word of the event, show off the yummy food (everyone loves seeing food), and encourage others to come participate.

Overall, the potential of Periscope is limitless. The app has the ability to truly explode in popularity, and RMHC can benefit from jumping on the video streaming craze early. The benefits of increased exposure, more visibility, and more volunteers and donors are all strong cases for why Ronald McDonald House should use Periscope.

 

Sources:

http://pagenorth.co.uk/introducing-periscope-the-next-generation-of-social-media/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/layla-revis/social-media-trends-2016_b_8914190.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periscope_(app)#Service (cited info only)

How Ronald McDonald House Can Benefit From Social Media Events

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched television events in America every year. Every first Sunday in February brings an exciting football game, creative displays of marketing, and a rush of hashtags, trends, and opinions from every spectrum of the American population. Truly, Super Bowl Sunday offers a complete form of entertainment that spans across all media channels.

The TV spots for showing an ad during the Super Bowl run millions for precious few seconds. Small businesses and non-profits can rarely afford such dramatic costs to raise awareness for their brand.

Even so, there are ways to benefit from the trends for non-profits like Ronald McDonald House. Mainly, non-profits can join the madness on Super Bowl Sunday and tweet along with the commercials. Furthermore, non-profits can check for the most popular trending hashtags, apply them to a tweet, and also use a hashtag with their organization’s name to raise visibility.

Focusing more on my particular client, the Ronald McDonald House of Morgantown, I believe the charity could use events like the Super Bowl to have people become involved. For example, I think RMHC could host a Super Bowl Party, where volunteers can come and fix party foods for the families of the house and enjoy the game alongside one another. Social media would, certainly, play a huge part in getting the awareness up for the event. RMHC could also reach to other local businesses to have them involved by having them donate to the party or even be present (such as a restaurant).

The Super Bowl is an event that brings people of all manner of differences together to witness the biggest sporting event of the year, as well as laugh and, perhaps, cry at the commercials. Due to this power of togetherness, I think the target audience, ie. donors and volunteers, would be happy to support such an event of RMHC’s. Furthermore, other popular broadcast events, such as the World Cup or the Oscars, can be used for the same purpose.

Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

Stadium during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

 

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, WV

RMHC-logo

The Ronald McDonald House is a charitable foundation designed to house families of ill children being treated at nearby facilities. The organization has strong ties to McDonald’s, being founded by Gerald Newman, Chief Accounting Officer for McDonald’s.

For the purpose of this blog post, I will focus on the Ronald McDonald House present here in Morgantown, WV. This small branch of the corporation was only opened in 1990, so we are still a fledgling operation. I use “we” because I have been employed by the Ronald McDonald House since summer of 2014. As the mission statement states, RMHC’s purpose is to provide “a home-away-from-home” for families who have their children being treated at any Morgantown facility (such as Ruby Memorial Hospital). To elaborate, RMHC has sixteen bedrooms that house four people each, a laundry facility, and a large kitchen and pantry stored to the brim with essentials. Through work that the employees do and the charitable donations of various corporations and people, RMHC makes sure that families can focus solely on the health of their loved ones during trying times, instead of worrying about where they will sleep and how they can afford it.

As far as local competitors, RMHC is rather standalone in what the organization does. The neighboring Rosenbaum House provides the same service, but Rosenbaum houses families of adults aged eighteen and over. There is a three year overlap between potential guests (RMHC’s age bracket is birth to twenty-one), though otherwise there is no direct competition in the manner of guests. However, looking at competition from the perspective of receiving donations and volunteers, the number of competitors certainly increases.

In terms of volunteers, RMHC directly competes with the Rosenbaum House, Ruby Memorial Hospital, Bartlett House, and many other non-profits located in Morgantown. Likewise, RMHC competes with the aforementioned for donations, both monetary and for items, in addition to other organizations like Salvation Army.

The RMHC social media pages are run by the very talented Ms. Lindsay Dawson, and RMHC has presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube. Every page is updated at least once a week, with Facebook having the largest reach (as of this blog, 3,349 people have liked the RMHC Morgantown Facebook page). The aforementioned competitors all have strong social media presence as well, with strong reviews on their social media sites like Facebook. However, none have the amount of likes as RMHC (Bartlett House has 777 as of this writing).

Even so, the competition for donations and volunteers is still strong. I have told many people that I work for Ronald McDonald House and they have responded with “McDonald’s?” To increase RMHC’s social media presence even more, I would focus on Twitter and Instagram to attract more young people as volunteers. I would update more frequently with events and photos. Moreover, I would use social media to target more corporations around Morgantown to attract them to RMHC’s events so that they may view our devotion to helping families firsthand.

RMHC is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping children and their families during turbulent times, and for that cause, I want to bring a even larger awareness to their mission.

 

 

If any of you reading this are interested in learning more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, feel free to visit the wonderful Facebook page, as well as the personal website!

https://www.facebook.com/RMHCMorgantown/

http://www.rmhcmorgantown.org/