Meal Kits: Why Customization Is Important

meal kit customizationEleven short years ago the meal kit industry’s first company emerged (in Sweden, called Middagsfrid Co.). Since then, the popularity of this service model has quickly grown to a $5 billion industry.

Meal kits are pre-portioned boxes of ingredients that home cooks can use to make a number of meals over the course of one or more days. That means no grocery store shopping and no wondering if you have a bit of thyme or a dash of oregano. Any extra cost compared to what you’d expect to pay for similar ingredients at the store is worth the convenience meal kits bring.

The competition is steep, which causes additional pressure on brands to stand out from the rest. There are food kits that offer more customized options depending on diet, food prep time, and day of the week delivery. The meal kit business model itself has proved popular in today’s rising desire for customization. However, if your brand wants to attract attention from the savvy consumers who currently subscribe to a meal kit or similar subscription services, you’ll want to keep the following considerations in mind.

Context Matters

Currently, the largest meal kit company is Blue Apron. This massive, $2 billion company selects publishers that are dedicated to food, cooking, and recipes. Then, they target ads related to these topics on sites like,, and other similar websites. The brand has recently teamed up with Weight Watchers, now branded as simply WW, to give alternative, points-assigned meal options for subscribers.

When determining how to allocate your advertising budget, contextual ads can help you connect to customers that are actively posting about something right in your wheelhouse. When looking to apply personalized marketing, think about who your target audience is and the story you want to sell them.

Your goal is to sell to as many people as possible, but who is your ideal customer? For the meal kit industry, it could be vegans, foodies who support sustainability, or home chefs who want all their ingredients pre-sliced.

Visuals Sell

Visit any of the leading meal kit company home pages and you’ll see beautifully laid out, high-resolution photos of a variety of foods. These “glamour shots” are a key component to advertising in the meal kit space, as we tend to eat with our eyes first.

When creating a marketing campaign for your food-related brand, ensure you’ve done all you can to create truly compelling visuals to trigger drool-worthy stares from prospective customers. Also, consider how your visuals will stand out and reflect your brand, especially when used in ads on social media or through email marketing campaigns. The food itself won’t be altered, but how you present it is what will possibly cause a consumer to choose your meal kit over another.

Exclusivity Reigns

Blue Apron boasts that fewer than 75% of its ingredients are available at a typical grocery store. This level of exclusivity means customers not only get everything delivered in one box, but it also means customers would have to make multiple trips to various grocery stores in their area to gather all the ingredients needed to create an identical “meal kit” dinner.

Keep this concept in mind when crafting an ad campaign for your food brand, exclusivity and/or scarcity can drive desire. Many of the meal kits are also sourced from local farms and vendors. In today’s socially conscious society, think about the things that matter most to your customers and deliver on it.

Social Reaches New Audiences

Visuals are important when capturing the attention of prospective meal kit customers. Those who have already adopted the culinary-kit method tend to love sharing photos of their latest creations via numerous social platforms. Brands like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef all maintain active Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook profiles.

Brands that want to compete in the meal kit industry must also focus a good share of their attention to cultivating and maintaining a healthy social profile. Again, think about your target buyer personas and tell a story through photos, branded hashtags, and giveaways to get people to engage. Offering introductory codes via different ad campaigns has also driven results due to the low-risk buy-in of the consumer who may want to try it without a full-on commitment.

Influencers Bring Value

Currently, HelloFresh allows customers to opt for one recipe per week created by reality start-turned-business owner Lauren Conrad. This is one example of a brand boosting its own appeal. Marley Spoon is subscription meal kit box curated by Martha Stewart. By leveraging the power of a world-renowned influencer and putting his or her own menu of quick and easy meal ideas to work for the consumer, it draws a bigger fanbase and higher probability of selecting that meal kit offering.

When food brands want to increase visibility, influencers are a must. Partner with celebrities or bloggers that makes sense for your brand. Measure the results of each influencer marketing campaign and continue delighting customers with surprise guest chefs or ambassadors.

Meal kits are all the rage right now, but to maintain relevance, brands have to evolve. They must make the experience customized, fun, and a fit for their target audience. While there doesn’t seem like there’s much differentiation between the types of kits available, there’s a reason why some are more successful than others.

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