Are You Hungry, Yet? How social media & meal delivery kits are taking over.

Why are companies like HelloFresh and Blue Apron thriving? Is it because of their social media game? Their product? The convenience? Or is it all of these combined that keeps people subscribed?

How are these companies disrupting grocery shopping and cooking industries? Let’s start by looking at what they have in common; these meal delivery kits offer automatic delivery, customization or preference and implement social media to properly advertise and engage with their subscribers.

HelloFresh uses primarily Twitter and Instagram for their engagement. With 250k followers on Instagram and 27.3k on Twitter, the meal delivery mogul uses these platforms to display their meals, various recipes and polls to better understand their customer. They even promote social media engagement by honoring subscribers photos of their cooked meals and tweeting them for a #HallOfFame photo of the week.

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Starting at $9.99 per serving, HelloFresh allows you to preselect your menu for the week and it is delivered to your doorstep the day you choose for delivery. There is a Classic Plan, Veggie Plan and Family Plan at $8.74 per serving. Shipping is free and meals take roughly 30 minutes to cook.

Rival, Blue Apron, founded in 2012 collects 1.8M likes on their Facebook page where they share meals they offer, partnerships with West Elm and Pottery Barn offering perks to consumers and new features about their business. For example, they rolled out a beverage delivery service including wine with their food delivery.

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However, their pricing model varies from HelloFresh’s. Their Two Person Plan starts at $9.99 per serving, plus an additional $7.99 for shipping. What is also different about Blue Apron is they require an account to be able to see their pricing models. Alternately, HelloFresh displays it right on their website. Blue Apron’s family plan is $8.99 per serving with free shipping or $71.92

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With understanding the models of HelloFresh and Blue Apron, what effect is this having on the grocery business? With food delivered right to the doorstep with ingredients and instructions, who even ventures to the grocery store anymore?

Blue Apron claims the grocery store ingredients per meal is “70% more expensive.” In one experiment, a woman looked up the ingredients and prices for the three most popular Blue Apron meals; Pork & Mustard, Tandoori Chicken and Nashville Catfish. The total was $102.31 while shopping for the cheapest prices available from Fresh Direct. This is a lot more expensive than $9.99 x 3, putting the meal delivery service way ahead for a price point.

Blue Apron went public June 2017 followed by HelloFresh’s IPO in November of 2017. The two dominate the market share of meal delivery service. Blue Apron is worth an estimated $800 million while HelloFresh is reportedly worth $1.6 billion.

With the proven success these meal kit companies have obtained, possibly from convenience, customers have alluded that is much more than the convenience that keeps them subscribed. Users of Blue Apron and HelloFresh have stated, they love the “convenience, the freshness, the easy, foolproof instructions and built-in portion control; some make it into a fun at-home activity to do with loved ones.”

When searching #BlueApron on twitter, their consumers are very engaged; sharing images of preparing meals with friends and family, tweeting about the deliciousness of their kit, or even engaging about the meal service for dinner later that night.

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#HelloFresh is no different. With 327k posts on Instragram with #HelloFresh, the company’s subscribers are very engaged with the service. Furthermore, since this business is so predominantly based off of preference (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.), it’s vital the meal delivery services remain in touch with their consumer base, constantly adjusting and improving customer experience.

As stated earlier, HelloFresh prides themselves off of user engagement through their #HallOfFame photo of the week which consists of a subscriber’s cooked meal from the company. They also promote the #GetCooking which usually involves content on tips for cooking or recipes for the holidays. #HelloFreshPics has generated 140k pictures tagged on Instagram with further consumer engagement.

Blue Apron is taking their social media and digital engagement to the next level with the podcast launched in fall 2017 with various topics revolved around cooking, eating and food. Blue Apron sponsors the podcast, “Why We Eat What We Eat” with host Cathy Erway. The objective is to “investigate the unseen forces that shape our eating habits. We’ll tackle a kale conspiracy, how to get your kids to quit being so picky and the epicenter of the potluck scene, and more.” …and you guessed it; their consumers are already engaging on social media with podcast #1.

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While yes, it’s convenience, deliciousness and efficiency that is driving this product, it’s also the social media engagement that Blue Apron and HelloFresh have relied so heavily on. What is even more impressive is the engagement they receive back from their subscribers. The meal delivery service has used social media to disrupt the grocery and food business; time will tell whether grocery stores will attempt to win back their shoppers.

https://lifehacker.com/are-meal-kits-really-cheaper-than-groceries-1794922297

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-blueapron-ipo/meal-kit-maker-blue-apron-goes-public-demand-underwhelms-as-amazon-looms-idUSKBN19J1C5

http://creative.gimletmedia.com/show/why-we-eat-what-we-eat/about/

https://www.recode.net/2017/11/2/16598114/hellofresh-ipo-blue-apron-comparison-worth-revenue

 

7 comments

  1. Sydney, great post! I found it really interesting that Blue Apron launched the podcast recently. I would never think to listen to talks from a meal-subscription service, yet it functions as great marketing for them as well as conveying an image that they’re dedicated to customer service. I’m interested to know if you’ve found anything about the success from these podcasts. It’s well-known that Blue Apron has faltered since their IPO. Personally, I’ve used Blue Apron a few times and I’m never been that impressed. The meal combinations have never been that exciting and the ingredients just don’t seem as fresh as they normally would at a restaurant or grocery store. I’m especially interested to see how Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods affects the viability of both services. Great job!

  2. Great post! After reading about the different ways that these companies use social media, I was interested in seeing how Blue Apron responds to negative social media comments. When I looked up their hashtag on Twitter, I saw that while they did respond to a user who said that her box was delivered late, open, and half-eaten, Blue Apron did not respond to a decent amount of other negative Tweets. I wonder what system they use to monitor such negativity? I also agree with Kaitlin- I definitely would never have thought that a food delivery service would start a podcast, but agree that this is a great way for them to gain a closer relationship with their consumers. Especially since Amazon recently started selling Amazon Meal Kits, Blue Apron needs to continue to start new initiatives to make their service different. A podcast is a great way for them to do this, especially since on average people spend four hours a day listening to audio.

  3. Great post! I have personally used HelloFresh and really liked it! I did my research on a few meal kit delivery options and found that HelloFresh was the best fit for me. Veggies always seemed to be fresh and the ingredient was flavorful. Of, course they say to add your own spices to your liking but overall it was a well-prepared meal. A few times when I opened up my box I did notice that my meat package might have been punctured. Every time I called customer service about my issues and they offered a free box or money off my next box! I think it is great for Blue Apron to channel in on a podcast. As many of us would not have expected this, they are setting themselves apart from other meal kit delivery boxes especially now, AMAZON.

  4. I think the whole meal kit space is interesting, and I wonder how well it stacks up compared to other online grocery delivery services. Do customers prefer a meal subscription kit because they need their groceries to be bundled in order to make a meal – and don’t have the cooking skills to put together recipes and do their own shopping? I have been reading reviews and the meal kit recipes are fairly simple and basic – nothing akin to mystery food basket on Food Network’s Chopped. I am confused about the typical demographic and customer that chooses to purchase these bulk meal prep kits – as I am pretty skeptical in regards to their price relative to ordering groceries online, and then researching recipes on one’s own time. However despite my skepticism, I am still continuously blown away with the amount of other “niche” meal-prep subscription boxes that continue to come out. Clearly there is a market for them right now (whether I see it or not), because more companies are trying to navigate the market – and if I do see them taking off anywhere, it is among the health-concious consumer – allowing them to greatly customize based on specific dietary restrictions. Overall great post Sydney – I learned so much and it will be interesting to see how this space develops!

  5. Really interesting article! Living in Boston, this is something that I’ve always thought about and it seems like an amazing idea. Especially with social media, these companies have made something really complicated, that is make gourmet food in your own home, to something that is much easier. However, with the recent move of amazon to the landscape, it will be interesting how these companies such as hellofresh and blueapron play against the behemoth of amazon. The podcast is something that seems weird at first but it seems like an amazing idea to connect better with the customers.

  6. Nice post. Food is yet another industry that has been completely disrupted by recent technology and software. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to still eat well and not have to physically go grocery shopping yourself. Your numbers surprised me a lot – when comparing the cost of the individual ingredients of the top 3 meals, was that figure (near 100$) on a comparable serving size to that of the $8.99? If so, wow, that is staggering.

  7. Great post Sydney! I’ve always found the business model for Blue Apron fascinating – it’s a great idea and this post made me want to try it out. I learned a lot about the pricing model, and the fact that the cost of preparing a meal through their services is lower than that of buying ingredients in a grocery store was really shocking, especially considering the high quality and freshness. However, I’ve been following their stock since the IPO, and it seems the price has been declining consistently. The stock opened trading at $10, and has since dropped to around $3 today. In an era where less and less people want to spend time cooking food at home and are more concerned about the convenience of food, I wonder if companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh will be able to make it big. At the same time, with the help of the digital engagement and social media campaigns you mentioned in this post, including #HallOfFame and #GetCooking, maybe they have a shot at reversing the trend and posing a significant threat to traditional grocery stores.

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