Birchbox is opening pop-ups in 500 Walgreens stores, an initiative that could help revive the subscription box company and attract more beauty-goers to Walgreens.

WHAT HAPPENED: Starting this Friday and lasting through the end of December, Birchbox will expand its partnership with Walgreens from 11 permanent locations to 500 temporary shop-in-shops across the country. Birchbox displays will be at the front of stores and will feature Birchbox subscription gift cards and beauty product samples that encourage customers to curate their own boxes. The move comes after Birchbox significantly scaled back its physical retail footprint.


  • Placement in Walgreens grants Birchbox widespread exposure and could attract a different type of beauty shopper to the pharmacy chain. Using Walgreens to expand its physical presence allows consumers who are skeptical of Birchbox’s subscription service to try it in real life without the company spending tens of millions of dollars to build an equivalent retail footprint. With no future around subscription boxes, Birchbox can now see how a broader segment of customers will respond to its offering without a monthly membership commitment. A temporary presence in 500 stores will give Birchbox an immense amount of consumer data, which could help further evolve its business model after a number of challenging years. But for a lasting impact, pop-ups won’t be enough.
  • Because Walgreens isn’t a destination for discovery, the drug store’s atmosphere could overshadow Birchbox’s presence. Given Walgreens’ premise as a store with everything from pharmaceuticals to paper goods to beauty, Birchbox will have a hard time standing out among Walgreen’s contained chaos. While the drug store carries a wide range of beauty products, the majority of its offering consists of legacy players like Maybelline and Covergirl, not the niche brandsBirchbox partners with. While Birchbox will allow customers to try new brands, Walgreens might not have full-size versions available in-store, which will either push customers to Birchbox’s website or encourage them to stick with the products they already know and love, which could defeat the purpose of the partnership.