- Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola and Francis Ford Coppola Winery have signed on as initial brands in a branded partnership intended to increase their online grocery penetration with digital meal planning service eMeals.
- eMeals allows shoppers to build weekly meal plans based off shoppable recipes that can auto-populate a shopping cart. The cart can either be used for in-store shopping or delivered to the consumer’s doorstep by Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, Instacart or Shipt.
- Tyson will be using the platform to highlight its Tyson Chicken, Hillshire Farm and Ball Park Franks brands in recipes. Coca-Cola and Francis Ford Coppola will pair with the platform to automatically suggest optimal beverage pairings.
With 77% of Americans preferring to eat at home rather than go out for a meal, according to a survey from online grocer Peapod, it’s not surprising that home chefs looking for some variety in the kitchen are searching for meal inspiration online. As the internet has transformed into a resource to search for recipes, it has also become a tool with which shopping lists can be built directly from those delectable suggestions.
To cater to consumer demand for convenience and ease, eMeals develops its own recipes in-house that subscribers have access to and then makes those recipes instantly shoppable by integrating branded products into weekly shopping lists. With this deal, Tyson, Coca-Cola and Francis Ford Coppola Winery are hoping to strategically slide some of their products into shopping carts.
As e-commerce is rapidly becoming a bigger part of shopping, CPG companies are employing a variety of strategies to gain a foothold in a segment that is expected to capture 20% of the grocery sales market and see more than $100 billion in transactions by 2025, according to Forbes. Kellogg ended direct-store delivery for its snacks division in 2017 and shifted resources to direct-to-consumer marketing. McCormick further expanded its online presence after launching a storefront on Chinese Alibaba site Tmall.com, through which it sells products directly to the consumer.
Other manufacturers have been working to increase their e-commerce presence in other ways. Campbell Soup, Smithfield Foods and Coca-Cola previously partnered with meal kit company Chef’d to sell branded meals. It's been difficult for companies in the meal kit space to achieve profitability, and Chef'd shut down in 2018 after spending most of its cash and failing to secure additional funding — though it has since been acquired and relaunched in stores.
Services like eMeals are completely different from meal kits, and a new way to modernize grocery shopping for consumers. Although eMeals customers are free to select their own ingredients or substitute other options for the branded products, evidence has shown basket auto-population — as well as offering suggested products for consumers to impulse buy — can be even more successful than traditional marketing strategies in brick and mortar retailers.
Companies have been working on strategies to take advantage of this consumer behavior. Hershey has optimized its online retail strategy by giving consumers an option to reload their cart with previously purchased items and shows recipes that allow them to buy all the ingredients with one click. Executives told Food Dive last year their average selling price and basket size has actually increased.
Clearly, consumers are keen to shop online. Although there is no guarantee that placing products in eMeals recipes to automatically populate shopping lists will result in a purchase, it is a form of branded marketing that removes the conscious selection step from the consumer and turns the tables, making it the shopper's choice to choose to remove it. This sort of strategy increases the opportunity for brands to bring their names to consumers' attention — as well as into their kitchens.