Birchbox Man Delivers Custom Virtual Reality Experience

By Sam Gopal | 22 Jul 2015

Grooming and lifestyle subscription retailer Birchbox Man is taking customers to another dimension with the launch of an exclusive virtual reality initiative.

In partnership with River Studios, the first accelerator for virtual and augmented reality companies, online beauty retailer Birchbox Man is debuting original virtual reality content, an app with which to play it, and custom cardboard viewers specially designed by River for Birchbox Man that will be included in every August subscription box.

Subscribers to Birchbox Man, a monthly service providing grooming-product samples, will find a Google Cardboard viewer in the box that works with Android and iOS smartphone apps to produce a 3-D image, allowing them to watch four branded action-packed virtual reality video experiences.

The video experiences capture the thrills of driving a race car, surfing through the barrel of a wave, motorbiking down a dirt road, and helicoptering over a metropolis. The footage was filmed using TriggarVR cameras specially designed to capture dynamic, live-action 360-degree video in high quality and edited with advanced stitching algorithms to produce truly transportive content.

“We’re committed to bringing a sense of discovery and innovation to our customers, so the opportunity to give them access to a brand-new experience through virtual reality is incredibly exciting,” says Brad Lande, General Manager of Birchbox Man and Lifestyle. “By tapping River’s foothold in this emerging technology, we’re able to take our subscribers on quite an adventure with a simple Cardboard viewer.”

Mike Rothenberg, Founder of River Studios and CEO of Rothenberg Ventures said, “We’ve reached a tipping point where this technology is now on the verge of becoming mainstream among a consumer audience. Birchbox Man was a natural partner for our first retail launch, allowing us to reach its customers directly at their doorsteps.”

It’s the first time Birchbox has experimented with virtual reality, and its monthly mailings could be a boon to the technology if the brand is able to consistently crank out new content. While this isn’t its immediate intention, the business model lends itself well to building a library of video it can update regularly.

“This is a way to get people to understand the technology in a different way and have an experience that’s unique and memorable,” said Lande. “The juxtaposition between the Cardboard — which is a very basic technology — and how immersive this feels is a great opportunity to put in the box.”

“Birchbox is uniquely positioned to associate themselves with something as forward thinking and unique as Cardboard without it seeming like a crass gimmick,” said Josh Payton, Vice President of User Experience at Huge. “I think it’s a brilliant and well-timed move.”

“The advantage that Birchbox has is that now that all of their subscribers are guaranteed to own a Google Cardboard, the company can continue to offer virtual reality content and test its relevance with this group, which can be extremely valuable,” said Adrian Slobin, Global Innovation Lead at SapientNitro.

Meanwhile, Birchbox is also ramping up its retail footprint, including its pop-up stores in partnership with Gap, which could be an opportunity to put virtual reality to other interesting uses. Following the opening of its first shop in New York last year, it’s just announced plans to open two new brick-and-mortar stores, one of which will only sell men’s products.

Part of the reason for the stores is that Birchbox’s subscription services that send product samples actually help boost sales for competitors like Sephora and Ulta. Using virtual reality with e-commerce could help bolster the brand. Equipped with these Cardboard viewers, which underscore the ‘box’ in Birchbox, the company can deliver its male subscribers virtual tours of new outlets or shoppable video tutorials on new products, in addition to the action videos.

“Subscription-based e-retailers, especially ones with a business model like Birchbox where users can try luxury products without a commitment, will greatly benefit by giving consumers new ways to try their products and get connected to the brands they’re promoting,” Slobin said.

New Birchbox subscribers can receive the virtual reality box for US$20 by visiting and signing up by August 10.

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