- Although Blue Apron tops the list of meal kit brands that consumers order online, new research from Field Agent finds that 78% of consumers want grocers to develop their own meal kits for in-store purchase, reports Progressive Grocer.
- Among those who have never ordered meal kits online, the top barriers are price and shopping venue. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers say online meal kits are too expensive, while 45% say they prefer to grocery shop in stores, according to Field Agent’s research.
- The research found free trials or samples (86%) and lower prices (72%) as the top drivers that could persuade non-users to try meal kits.
The jury remains out as to whether meal kits will become a long-term choice for consumers, or if they only serve as a convenient option every now and then. What’s really intriguing about Field Agent’s research, though, is that so many consumers say they want to purchase meal kits in the grocery store.
Demand clearly exists for meal kit solutions, but there are two primary sticking points: price and channel. Retailers that already offer meal kits in their stores — including Kroger and Publix, among others — should be all over this data, trying to figure out how to better market and price their meal kits in order to grab a bigger piece of the growing $5 billion meal kits business. This data should also give grocers not already participating in meal kits enough incentive to figure out how to play in the space.
Interestingly, Progressive Grocer points out that more than two-thirds of consumers are looking for meal kits that combine local or private brands along with national brand names. This suggests a prime partnership opportunity for retailers and food manufacturers to team on meal kits for sale at grocery stores. Some manufacturers are already starting to partner with grocers on meal kits.
Another huge factor in selling meal kits — particularly for online services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh — is the ability for consumers to first trial or sample products before buying, especially when consumers deem the price of meal kits as too expensive. Blue Apron, for one, has cited high costs associated with marketing and customer attainment and retention as key factors preventing it from turning a profit.
The ability to demo and sample meal kits is an area where physical grocery stores clearly have a leg up on online services. These in-store tactics are frequently used by food manufacturers and grocers to garner consumer interest and encourage new item trial. It would be a no-brainer to trial a meal kit offer in stores in a similar manner.
All in all, it’s puzzling why grocers haven’t been more aggressive in capitalizing on the meal kit market. Clearly there is interest amongst consumers willing to purchase meal kits as part of their regular grocery shopping trips — or even make an extra trip to the store as the need arises. Most retailers already have all the ingredients and supplier relationships in place, and have established themselves as trusted sources for fresh products. The rest would mainly be a marketing and branding exercise.