Consumers Responding to Mystery Boxes in Age of Uncertainty
Carol Feigenbaum |
 03/02/21 |
4 min read

Consumers Responding to Mystery Boxes in Age of Uncertainty

Mystery Boxes have been all the rage of late – and in an unlikely industry: luxury. Consumers offer up a significant chunk of change for the thrill of the unboxing – and this offers important market intelligence insight for any brand to monitor. As we navigate the future of shopping, mystery boxes may play a leading role. Let’s find out!


There’s a lot to ‘unbox’ in this article, including:

  • Luxury audiences looking for sales
  • Unraveling this mysterious new trend
  • The future of discount fashion

And these facts help add context to what we’ll be discussing:

  • Millennials take up 32% of the overall luxury market
  • The luxury industry is worth $281 billion Euros worldwide
  • Ecommerce hit $2.53 trillion worldwide in 2020

Making Mystery Boxes for Luxury Audiences

Mystery boxes aren’t exactly new, but they’re seeing more traffic in the recent year with the forced closings of big discount retailers like Stein Mart. These boxes are made up of a surplus of inventory gathered by different businesses for resale. The catch is, you don’t know what you’ll get until you’ve opened your box. And now they’ve hit the luxury market.

The target audience for these boxes are millennials who take up 32% of the luxury market, and Gen Z who currently only take up 8%, but are expected to surpass their elders by 2030. Though, focuses on Boomers would be wise, as they over-index on this topic:


With the luxury industry hitting $340b USD this last year, that’s a big chunk of spending available for these luxury mystery box e-tailers.

Adding to the fun of mystery boxes are YouTube influencers filming themselves opening them and showing their fans their rewards. And love HEAT for the discounted surplus from luxury boutiques, including Belenciaga and Gucci. These boxes are offered at tiered pricing, discounted deeply.

Heat has 657K followers on Instagram and their posts are carefully curated model shoots, with brands like Yeezy prominently displayed. You’ll find none of the messy racks of a discount store here:


And market intelligence reveals conversations about this posh emerging trend. Filtering our results by sources where consumers talk about mystery boxes and then sorting by sentiment reveals where brands should be focusing their investigations to capture the heart of consumers:


With so much negativity, and just intel in general, being posted on Forums, digging deeper is a much. So, taking a look at a timeline view, with “domains” labeled offers a clear indicator that Reddit is a site to explore for specific consumer intel.


Connecting the Dots on a New Trend

The subscription box approach of “try before you buy” appeals to everyone right now. Subscriptions allow some personalization and often also have VIP programs where consumers can receive a discount and be a part of an elite club. And Luxury Mystery Boxes typically offer a flexible return policy if you don’t like what you receive. But what are people saying about it on Reddit?

Focusing specifically on that domain, we can dial in our search to reveal specific behaviors. We can click through to see which posts are associated with “buy” or “not buy” and other terms. When searching for customer posts about a specific brand, this insight is even more valuable as we could see why people are talking about “stopping” a mystery box subscription or what caused them to “not activate” an offer.


A common misperception amongst brands is that consumers will reach out or tag them when they have a complaint, but this is very often not the case. Capturing this insight is important. Because, if you’re not – your competitor likely is. And do not limit your search to only Reddit or whichever forum has most of your brand conversation, as other valuable conversations can happen elsewhere too – all across the social web.

Another appealing aspect of mystery boxes, is sustainability – which is a focal point for the younger generations. And this is your luxury mystery box audience of the future, for sure.

The Discount Luxury Fashion Future

eCommerce hit $2.53 trillion USD world-wide in 2020, encouraged by the pandemic. And sustainability has been a big part of the ecommerce conversation this past year. Consumers are increasingly becoming more conscious of what and who they support, choosing to support those who align with their personal values and ethics. As such, the sustainability market is projected to reach $150 billion USD. And resale companies like Hybe naturally contribute to the mind set of upcycling.

Everything is acquired through third parties and from overstock or inventory from stores that couldn’t keep their doors open during 2020. But it’s not just about the product – packaging is becoming a part of the sales funnel too. Luxury mystery box master, Heat weas onboard the sustainability train from inception, perhaps they market intelligence to inform them:


And it doesn’t have to be restricted to luxury mystery boxes either. The massive influx of inventory from factories and brands that couldn’t make it, has created a lucrative business model for savvy marketers listening in on the consumer and market intelligence conversation.

It’s also not all beauty and fashion. Books, Wine, CBD Oil, Funko Pops and even Plants are all becoming part of the mystery box phenomenon:


And sampling from above are two examples of thinking outside the box: Wine subscriptions have been a thing for years now, but recently they’ve delved into the mystery box side of things, as have CBD oils:


So, jumping in doesn’t require that you offer only luxury, nor only clothing. There are many avenues to explore, and maybe one hasn’t been recognized yet. Market and consumer intelligence can help you locate it and evaluate your options. Reach out to explore insight relevant to whatever mysterious offering you have up your sleeve!

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