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Surprise is what lies behind the current online subscription club craze.  Subscription clubs – where you pay to receive a monthly surprise box in the mail of curated goodies – work for vendors because they take the surprise element of sales away – by providing regular, predictable subscription income.  And that’s good. Subscription clubs work for subscribers because they add a surprise element to product discovery, specifically a surprise in the form of a months gift box. And that’s good too.

So it should come as no surprise that online subscription clubs are replicating around the web like a virulent virus. They even have their own hashtag #subcom (subscription commerce) (here’s another useful roundup, directory and analysis from Sean Percival (Thanks Liad from Shoply)). The latest subcom example reported yesterday in Springwise is Hiskit, a new subscription club for men to discover new grooming products for $15/month (with underwear, and phone accessories thrown in for good measure).

Hiskit is Birchbox for men – and that’s no bad thing since Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp’s luxury sampling box business for the beauty industry is growing 50% month on month (in subscribers) and has just closed a US$10.5 million Series A round of funding, led by Accel Partners. Hiskit is the sort of thing that FHM and GQ, Men’s Health, and other men’s lifestyle magazines should be doing to future-proof themselves against obsolescence – but they aren’t – yet.

It remains to be seen whether men will take to the Hiskit grooming boxes in their present form in the same way women are flocking to the Birchbox beauty box; most subscription clubs are female-oriented and some recent qualitative research we conducted on gender differences in decision paths suggested that product discovery for men may be somewhat different to that of women – more inertia and smaller consideration sets for men (one very popular online category excepted).

Perhaps supercharging Hiskit with that particular category in question could be the answer…