How Blue Apron Sparked My Joy of Cooking

 

Before deciding to become a Blue Apron subscriber, I was a typical New Yorker—I was an order-in addict. The delivery service from my corner diner was faster than most room service at any five-star hotel. I love the convenience of this mostly urban activity, but I wanted to do better.

For years I tried to get into the whole cooking-from-scratch process, but it was not something I enjoyed. For one, I didn’t trust myself when shopping for ingredients. I always bought too much of one spice or too much of another ingredient, and they would inevitably rot in my refrigerator and need to be discarded. Then, when I did cook, I resorted to simple meals like broiled fish and salad. One thing for sure, my meals were super healthy but very boring. And there I was—back to ordering take out.

About a year ago, a friend introduced me to Blue Apron. Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that provides you with all the ingredients, in exactly the right proportions, that you need to make a delicious meal. It seemed like the perfect solution for me.

From the moment I received my first delivery, I was hooked. It fits my lifestyle to a T and satisfies my need for healthy, appetizing variety. Each Monday I receive my delivery that contains all the fixings and the instructions needed to prepare three delicious recipes. Blue Apron offers several flexible options—you can choose traditional, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free menus, two-person or family-size portions, and the delivery day that works best for you.

With Blue Apron I did a mental turnaround — I gave up my take-out addiction and I have become a fan of cooking. Every time I think of my attitude shift, I remember the recipe book, The Joy of Cooking. With Blue Apron, I can actually connect joy, cooking, and myself in a sentence. This service transformed my feelings of inadequacy in the kitchen to feelings of confidence—I’ve even begun to experiment a bit and consider myself to be a chef-in-the-making! Now I look forward to cooking!

Using Blue Apron is like being in my own personal cooking class where I feel totally set up for success. The prep and cooking process are so simple and easy to follow and the meals are absolutely delicious. Most of all, preparing meals for myself using the quality ingredients that Blue Apron delivers each week makes me feel good about myself. In addition to saving money, I now have the peace of mind that I’m taking care of myself.

While the practical benefits of Blue Apron are undeniable, especially to a novice like myself, the brand’s long-term value is clearly enhanced by the promise I keep to myself each time I prepare a meal—my commitment to improving the quality of my life.

Questions to Consider

  1. What factors have contributed to the growth of services like Blue Apron, Plated, and The Portable Chef?
  2. What products and services have helped to improve the quality of your everyday life?
  3. How do you nurture and take care of yourself each day?

HealthStyles: A New Path to Value

We started our discussion about Value a little while back and our post on The Green Value Opportunity: Local Solutions was a first look at re-defining value in a way that resonates with consumers.

But, there is also a consumer-driven factor that is likely to impact this new value paradigm and we believe this is an attitude of responsibility.

With this mindset of responsibility playing an important role in the “stuff” consumers acquire, it will be important for marketers to imbue their products and services with attributes that reflect new values. This brings us to the notion of Health & Wellness which we view as another Value for marketers to take notice of.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are contributing to the emergence of Health & Wellness – which we term the HealthStyles Value.

The Social Environment

Interest in HealthStyles is driven by several major demographic and social changes.

First, Americans in general are living longer – and people want to live those extra years “better.” As Iconoculture reported last year, several reputable studies have found that lifestyles that combine a healthy (low fat, high in fruits/vegetables) diet and moderate exercise may forestall Alzheimer’s and other mental declines. Consumer interest in learning about the importance of exercise in improving the quality of life was evident in the high “share” rate (the third most shared article of the day on nytimes.com) for John Hanc’s recent column, Staying on Balance, With the Help of Exercises. The article points out the importance of balance for our growing older population, and the share rate demonstrates just how much people are clamoring for this kind of information.

Second, despite the current recession, the overall cost of food continues a 20-year decline as percentage of a family’s income and obtaining adequate, nutritious food is now much more accessible to most people. Under the auspices of the Federal WIC Farmers Market Nutrition program, almost every state allows low-income residents to utilize food assistance cards/coupons to purchase locally grown foods at farm stands and farmers’ markets.

And third, with the recent move toward universal healthcare coverage, there is an increasing recognition that developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more cost-effective over the long term. There are several high profile initiatives centering around the relevance of health consciousness including:

Let’s Move. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” project to address childhood obesity is an example of utilizing core Health & Wellness in a major policy initiative. The program incorporates nutrition education (with fresh foods in the forefront) and developing a lifelong, physically active lifestyle. By targeting children through engagement in growing and preparing healthy meals and incorporating “movement” into every child’s daily schedule – maintaining a healthy weight and fit body is easier and more natural.

NFL Play 60. Launched in 2007, NFL PLAY 60 is a national youth health and fitness campaign focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. Along with national outreach and online programs, NFL PLAY 60 is implemented at the grassroots level through NFL’s in-school, after-school and team-based programs. The program has targeted $200 million to address childhood obesity since its inception.

The Marketing Environment

Several companies are getting out in front of the Health & Wellness trend and are taking a holistic approach to promoting consumer products and services.

Whole Foods’ partnership with “Eat Right America” enables shoppers to create store-wide shopping lists tailored to different eating plans from vegan to allergy-aware to baby/toddler to weight management.

V-8’s “What’s Your Number” TV commercials highlight the fruit/vegetable nutrition count in their products with a focus on the positive effects of these beverages on consumers’ overall health. Weight Watchers just revised their famous points system to give dieters a free pass when consuming fresh fruits or vegetables – by identifying these items as “point-free,” members will be encouraged to increase consumption of more healthful (and lower calorie/fat) foods in their ongoing efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

In April, Rite-Aid, the drugstore retailer launched their new Wellness+ rewards program. The loyalty program allows card holders to redeem points for free glucose and cholesterol screenings at local labs. As consumers search for savvy ways to stay healthy, has Rite-Aid found a unique way to leverage Health & Wellness to create more value in their relationship with their shoppers?

Even fast food companies like Wendy’s are getting in on the act by offering better-for-you french fries made with “Russett potatoes, leaving the skin on and sprinkling sea salt on top.”

While food, fitness and healthcare are a natural fit for the Healthstyles Value, we believe the possibilities go beyond these categories.

The Business Opportunity

Some brands are taking the long view and positioning their brands as offering benefits that contribute to a lifetime of health. Aquafresh toothpaste has gone beyond addressing the obvious attributes of fresh breath and white teeth – their new Aquafresh Iso-Active range is positioned to deliver “Strong, Healthy Teeth for a Lifetime.”

As Americans become more time and cash crunched, personal services such as Spas have suffered as customers cut time-consuming luxuries from their budgets. By repositioning spa services into 30-60 minute “wellness breaks” and focusing of revitalizing treatments versus pampering, day spas may be able to recapture past customers while building a new customer base.

In this rushed world more people are considering time spent away from work, recharging and enjoying recreation with family and friends, to be critical to their overall Health & Wellness. Products and services that enable consumers to utilize their work time most effectively and re-engage with family will be viewed as delivering this new Healthstyle value.

Microsoft’s new Windows 7 phone is leveraging that important value. In its “Really” campaign, users of competitors’ products are shown as disengaged and missing important milestones because using their smartphones is so time-consuming. In addition to clearly setting up the phone dilemna in this Windows 7 launch ad, an additional execution in the campaign directly reflects the HealthStyles value by showing how the Windows 7 phone supports a fulfilling, “healthy” lifestyle experience.


Which other product or service categories do you think could benefit from integrating the HealthStyles Value into their branding efforts?

The New Singles – Take 2

It looks like we’re not the only ones thinking that marketers are missing the boat by not considering New Singles in their marketing strategies.

A recent story on NPR’s Marketplace highlighted the general lack of advertising and marketing targeted to single women. A few exceptions got our attention – Lowe’s current TV spot focuses on a single woman (no kids or man in sight) with a home improvement project list. Given that a large part of the growth in home ownership in the past decade has been driven by single women, Lowe’s appears to be on the right track.

More Magazine – targeted to the vital 40+ woman, ran a cover story in their April 2010 issue entitled “Loving La Vida Solo“. The title alone serves to reinforce the thinking behind the New Singles segment:

“…coming to discover that happiness – a full life, a full heart – can be theirs with or without a partner.”

What’s up for 2010!

2010
We’ve had fun bringing our twist to those trends that got our juices flowing in 2009. And now we cast our attention to 2010. There are so many happenings that are showing up and we think they will be changing the way we all look at the world.

In addition to updating past posts when it makes sense, here are a few themes we are following:

  1. The New Value, it’s not just about price. It’s experiential, it involves conscious decision-making – so marketers might have new chances to make a first impression. For established brands, could this development be a boon?
  2. Transparency. The 2008 election highlighted how critical it was to voters to be authentic. Now we see marketers like Domino’s Pizza jumping on board, taking “truth in advertising” to a whole new level. What else is next?
  3. Has outreach to Ethnic & Urban consumers become yesterday’s news? The economics of advertising and promotion is giving companies pause and there have to be casualties. How will this dollars and cents issue affect marketing decision-making?
  4. The End of Civility. If 2009 told us anything, political correctness seems to have taken a back seat. You remember Kanye West’s public dissing of Taylor Swift at the MTV Awards and Representative Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during the live broadcast of his health care speech to Congress and the American people. How far is this going?
  5. Career Path, meet Career Streams. Distrust of corporations has been growing for some time. Mergers and acquisitions, unemployment, job attrition, to name a few factors, are forcing us to think of new sources of earning potential. Could single payer income sources be a thing of the past?
  6. A New Twist on the “Water Cooler.” With more people moving to flexible work schedules and with work teams comprising people from different locations and time zones, the pop culture discussion around the “water cooler” has practically disappeared. What will drive the mass culture word-of-mouth when mass culture seems to have fragmented completely?

We look forward to bringing our take on these ideas and more so keep an eye out for some new views from New-Take in 2010!