SHAPE Adds New Revenue Stream with Beauty Lab Box

Last November's box sold out in two weeks.

In an uncertain world, publishers are looking for income sources beyond advertising and subscription revenue to become financially sustainable for the long haul. Meredith is the latest publisher to diversify with its new SHAPE Beauty Lab Box. The company announced yesterday that its second box goes on sale on June 7, following a successful launch last November in which the beauty boxes sold out in just two weeks.

Available at Meredith’s Magazine Store, SHAPE magazine's latest Beauty Lab Box is $45 for $560 worth of beauty products from 21 different brands including Batiste, Degree, Fortify+, CeraVe, Swash, imPRESS, Hello, Skintimate and others. Hand-picked by SHAPE editors, the limited-edition Beauty Lab Box if centered around health and wellness, offering everything from dry shampoos and charcoal masks to facial mists and toothpaste. Some of the items are full size, while others like Vichy’s Mineral 89 Booster Serum are travel size.

Though the Beauty Lab Box is not on sale yet, shoppers can sign up to be notified when the box is available for purchase. Because of the success of the first Beauty Lab Box, Meredith said the summer edition is only available while supplies last.

“The Beauty Lab Box delivers just what our audience is hungry for: the joy of discovering vetted, editor-approved products to keep them at the forefront of what's trending,” said SVP, Group Publisher Agnes Chapski, in the June 2, 2021 announcement. “SHAPE's brand expertise provides invaluable access for our beauty advertising partners who want to connect with passionate consumers who are committed to their beauty and workout routines.”

Meredith's SHAPE magazine adds Beauty Lab Boxes to its revenue opportunities.
Meredith's SHAPE magazine adds Beauty Lab Boxes to its revenue opportunities. Image courtesy of Meredith.

Business strategy

Andy Wilson, senior vice president of ecommerce and paid products, explained the company’s rationale for Meredith’s latest offering.

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“The SHAPE Beauty Lab Box is one component of Meredith's larger company-wide strategy focused on driving diverse revenue streams and deepening consumer engagement across platforms,” Wilson said.

This move is consistent with Meredith’s pivot toward a digital and magazine focus. In early May, Meredith sold its National Media Group to Gray Television, Inc. for $2.7 billion in cash. Instead of dividing its interests between broadcast and publishing, the company will focus solely on its digital and magazine platforms and national brands including PEOPLE, Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living, REAL SIMPLE, SHAPE and Allrecipes. Meredith is the number 1 magazine publisher in the United States with over 36 million subscribers and the number 2 global licensor of its brands.

“We expect the transaction to unlock meaningful shareholder value as it advances all of the company's financial priorities: reducing net debt, improving financial flexibility, allocating capital to fast-growing digital and consumer opportunities, and providing returns to shareholders,” said Harty in a May 3, 2021 statement about the sale. “As a more focused company with an enhanced balance sheet and cash-generating media assets, we will further advance our position as a media leader with trusted brands, a digital business of scale, and unparalleled reach to women.”

Insider Take

Some subscription boxes and beauty boxes can be purchased outright like the SHAPE Beauty Lab Box. Others like the GQ Best Stuff box are subscription-based. For example, the GQ box is available for $50 a quarter or $190 a year, for a $10 savings. It is possible that Meredith is experimenting with the SHAPE box to see what demand is before it settles on a revenue model and frequency. It also seems likely that, whatever Meredith settles on, they will apply the winning formula to its many popular consumer magazines. This is a great opportunity for them to test different options while also providing visibility and exposure to beauty brands who want to get noticed. Everybody wins.