As the pandemic began, companies providing contactless food solutions saw an increase in demand, with companies ranging from eGrocers to third-party delivery services seeing orders coming in at unprecedented rates.
But now that restaurants are reopening and people can’t wait to go out, many are wondering if all of that touchless, time-saving convenience for consumers over the past 14 months is going to disappear or stay and be part of the job. -pandemic lifestyle. According to Blue apron President and CEO Linda kozlowski, the meal kit trend is here to stay.
“As a result of the pandemic, we have seen that cooking habits have increased in 2020, and third-party and internal research supports these habits to continue to some extent in 2021,” Kozlowski told PYMNTS in an interview. “We believe meal kits are well positioned to meet these interests,” she added, noting that Blue Apron is appealing to customers on two main fronts – not only by removing the burden of recipe planning, but also by introducing consumers to new cooking techniques that help them. sharpen their cooking skills.
Innovate to keep
As a competitor’s meal kit subscription service HelloFresh touts customer growth, Blue Apron measures its success first and foremost by how each of those customers uses the service, focusing on value per customer.
“First, we are focused on engaging and retaining our current customers by adding variety to our menu offerings and making sure that we provide them with the most value possible,” said Kozlowski. Specifically, she highlighted product innovation as a key driver of customer value, noting that the company “introduced more new products than in any previous year” in 2020, which included Premium recipes, create wellness options and integrate the ability to add more meals per week to a customer’s subscription. These additions, Kozlowski said, “have resulted in record levels of revenue per customer.”
This focus on adding value to existing customers is especially important for a meal kit subscription service, as the category is notoriously susceptible to destabilization. In fact, a pre-pandemic study in 2018, 70% to 80% of subscribers to major meal kit services unsubscribed within six months of signing up.
“Once we have established an engaged customer base, we then work to attract new ones with the right marketing tools,” Kozlowski said. “… By adding this level of value to each client, we can then invest in acquisitions as we grow.”
Separate from the pack
The meal kit subscription space is very competitive, with consumers facing a potentially overwhelming number of options. In addition to Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, there are pre-cooked meal subscription services like Freshly, culture-specific meal kit providers like Quicklly, and value-based subscription services like Ends + Stems.
“We believe we offer the best product on the market, and our culinary authority is what gives us an edge over others,” Kozlowski said.
Food quality is far from the only way Blue Apron seeks to provide its customers with a unique and positive experience. As a D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) company, the website and in-app interfaces also play a vital role. Kozlowski explained, “We believe our digital experience is the key to our success. We make it easy for our customers to plan their weekly Blue Apron meals, view upcoming menu options, and collaborate with our customer service team.
Meet consumers where they are
Some have speculated in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak that the pandemic-fueled meal kit surge may not last for years to come. However, Kozlowski noted in a recent call for earnings that the company “is seeing sustained levels of increased customer value even as more people are vaccinated and travel increases.”
Speaking about this trend, Kozlowski told PYMNTS, “We believe there are many opportunities for Blue Apron to complement our clients’ regular routines. We know they enjoy Blue Apron a few nights a week, while ordering take out and dining out. “
To that end, she said, the company is looking to bring more “flexibility and variety” to its offerings, allowing consumers to turn to Blue Apron products “for different dining occasions.” For example, the company recently introduced a Additional modules function, allowing customers to complete their order with side dishes, entrees and desserts.
Ultimately, Kozlowski believes that this degree of personalization will allow meal kit subscription services to fit more seamlessly into the lives of consumers in the years to come. She predicted, “As the industry continues to evolve, I believe meal kits will become even more personalized, and we are preparing for this expected continuing evolution.”
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