On Thursday, beauty subscription companies Ipsy and its subsidiary BoxyCharm announced that the two brands will consolidate under one Ipsy umbrella.
BoxyCharm, which focuses on full-size products, will remain an existing brand. However, it will move from its standalone status with a separate website, Boxycharm.com, by relocating to Ipsy.com in March. In addition, though it formerly maintained a separate influencer marketing strategy, it will shift to work off the Ipsy marketing playbook.
The purpose behind the consolidation is to ease operations on the backend, as managing six subscription tiers across the two brands is difficult, said Tina Shim, both brands’ svp of marketing. Moving forward, there will be three options: Ipsy will continue to offer its sample-size beauty subscription Glam Bag. In addition, there will be a subscription offering full-size beauty products called BoxyCharm by Ipsy. The final option will be a quarterly celeb-curated collection called Icon Box, which is similar to options both brands offered before. In addition, there will be new subscription options, like Power Picks, providing guaranteed inclusion of buzzy products and brands, and Beauty Boost, granting select members an add-on item.
Shim declined to share current the brands’ subscriber figures. At the time of Ipsy’s $500 million acquisition of BoxyCharm in Oct. 2020, it was reported that the combined businesses had more than 4.3 million subscribers and had earned $1 billion that year.
“We had the luxury of cherry-picking the best of both Ipsy and BoxyCharm [features],” Shim said.
Ipsy and BoxyCharm boast themselves as the largest beauty subscription platform. Since the acquisition in 2020, fellow subscription box company Birchbox was sold in 2021 in what was widely regarded as a fire sale. Meanwhile, British-based Glossybox owner THG found itself embroiled in corporate governance issues, and FabFitFun grew its subscriber base to 2 million people, but it also shuttered its live TV production with Facebook in 2020.
Before the consolidation, BoxyCharm’s influencer strategy was primarily focused on metrics like earned media value, for which it garnered $200 million in 2022, and one-off partnerships. Moving forward, it will mirror Ipsy’s strategy, which focuses on customer acquisition and longer-term partnerships. Together, BoxyCharm and Ipsy influencers will drive traffic to Ipsy.com, where BoxyCharm will live in a dedicated section.
Ipsy invests 80% of its influencer marketing budget on Meta platforms, 10% on TikTok, and 10% on other social media channels like YouTube. This is a shift from 2021 when Ipsy invested closer to 90-95% of its budget on Meta. BoxyCharm’s own influencer marketing budget is similar, said Shim; however, it started to invest more in TikTok around the second quarter of 2021, as opposed to the third quarter like Ipsy. She declined to share exact investment figures but said influencer marketing is the biggest marketing vehicle behind the company’s paid social ads. The company invests in about 20-30 paid content creator partnerships a month, varying from micro-influencers to celebrity mega-influencers.
Karen Chimal, director of creator partnerships at Ipsy, said that one of the biggest appeals of TikTok is the ability to work with content creators with smaller followings yet reach the wide scale of mega influencers if the content performs well. In a recent post-purchase survey, TikTok was ranked No. 2, behind Meta, on how customers heard about Ipsy.
“[We] can work with smaller influencers and earn a large reach and engagement on certain videos if you play the algorithm right,” she said. “People are using TikTok like a search platform, so creating content that becomes discoverable is going to be something we’re going to work closely with creators to align on.”
Ipsy and BoxyCharm each have gifting programs with 2,000 content creators, who receive monthly boxes. Chimal said the influencer marketing team uses this pool to also source for creators with whom Ipsy would like to work with in a paid capacity. The program is reviewed approximately every three months to see who is actively participating. The combined gifting program will have about 3,500 people. The gifting program is channel agnostic, with participants free to create content for any social platform. People can apply through Ipsy’s website to join the program and it is not limited to certain follower sizes.
The Ipsy philosophy on influencer marketing is analytics focused, with customer acquisition costs evaluated for creator partnerships, organic social ads and paid social ads. And it focuses on driving down total CAC, considering the traditional marketing funnel, from awareness to purchase, said Shim, but she declined to share specifics. Ipsy considers TikTok an upper-funnel driver where it can lean into trends. At the same time, Meta platforms are the typical conversion drivers, with Ipsy ads offering limited-time sign-up offers and promoting the dollar value of subscriptions. In addition to the aforementioned social media channels, Chimal said she is interested in opportunities on Pinterest, YouTube Shorts and podcast advertising.
Chimal said that Ipsy and BoxyCharm want to grow their content creator networks and deepen relationships with them beyond sending monthly bags. For example, in 2019, Ipsy opened a 20,000-square-foot content studio in Los Angeles. Previously that was not accessible to BoxyCharm’s influencer community, but it will be moving forward. Ipsy also wants to launch blog content with creators, which strengthens the brand’s SEO. Shim said Ipsy wants to be seen as a leader in the beauty space and an exciting brand, rather than known for value-driven offers.
“Not to overuse the words ‘buzzy’ and ‘in the zeitgeist,’ but we do want to become top-of-mind when people think of brands that are helpful for all of their beauty needs. Creators who are credible with their audiences are one key way to get there,” said Shim.