Considered revolutionary when they first hit the market, meal kits are evolving from their original form. The convenience of having everything delivered and easy preparation methods remain top purchase drivers – but how consumers access the kits is changing, creating a new role for grocers. Our report, What’s Next for Meal Kits, tells the story.
While the consumer base for home-delivered meal kits continues to rise, retaining consumers in the subscription model has proven a challenge. Of the 50 million U.S. adults who have ever tried a meal kit, 18 million continued to use them in the last 30 days; about one-third stayed as regular users. However, there is evidence these lost users are looking for the flexibility that retail can provide. About half of lost subscription users are trying in-store meal kits.
Saving a trip to the grocery store sounds appealing to many consumers. This helped drive trial for subscription home-delivered kits, though fundamental behaviors around dinnertime might explain why consumers aren’t going totally digital with their home-prepared meals. For example, dinner is often a last-minute decision, and the meal becomes a mission of fulfilling what the consumer desires in that moment. Subscription meal kits answer the what’s-for-dinner question, but the consumer needs to decide on the meal at least a week in advance for most subscription services. It works for those who plan well, but at 4:30 p.m. on a typical day, most consumers don’t know what they’re having for dinner that night.
As meal kits move into retail, the grocer can take on a more meaningful role as a solution provider. As other industries migrated to e-commerce the brick-and-mortar retailers in those industries needed to adapt. They couldn’t simply be places to transact with consumers – instead, they had to offer solutions and services to keep consumers coming into their stores. Increasingly, consumers are entering grocery stores to determine what their next meal will be in addition to stocking up on their regular items. Offering meal kits allows stores to be the solution providers for consumers who plan ahead as well as those who create a meal plan at the last moment.
Competition is another reason grocery stores should consider partnering with meal kits or creating their own. Consumers are mostly substituting foods purchased at grocery stores with their meal kits. If a subscriber didn’t use a kit for their meal, more than 70 percent of the time they would have prepared something at home with store-purchased ingredients or with a prepared-food item from the grocery store.
Meal kits are on the move. The subscription model is likely to remain relevant, but it’s important to remember consumers are looking for meal solutions both online and in stores. Marketers looking to capitalize on providing meal solutions should follow consumers to all their points of purchase.