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Officially launched in 2011, RubyBox is a try-before-you-buy beauty subscription start-up that has developed into one of South Africa’s leading online beauty destinations. RubyBox members pay a monthly subscription fee to receive a customized box of premium beauty samples from top international and local brands. After customers identify the perfect product, they can purchase the full-size version from Rubybox’s online store featuring more than 60 top brands. Sylvia uses data collected from her 4,050 monthly RubyBox subscribers and 18,300 registered accounts to create targeted promotional campaigns and utilize advertising space within the sampling boxes.
The South African market for personal care and beauty products is valued at US$2.1 billion and RubyBox anticipates annual growth of 11%. The online retail space for this market in particular is forecasted to grow 30% per year. Sylvia estimates that RubyBox controls a 25% market share of the e-commerce beauty industry in South Africa.
By attracting a sizeable investment from Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa, in 2012, RubyBox was able to launch an e-commerce platform and acquire a competitor, Glambox. As a first mover in the South African beauty market, RubyBox’s brand recognition has been strong enough to block the entry of would-be competitors. Sylvia has begun to introduce RubyBox-branded products to her samplings in order to expand her customer base through creating more sustainable inventories.
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