The meal delivery industry is evolving rapidly nationwide, providing consumers with a variety of ways to avoid cooking, save time and possibly eat better in the process. We’ve proudly been part of this revolution in Boston since our inception 4 years ago. In order to bring more people to the table (pun intended) we continually seek to understand our current and prospective customers’ perceptions about our service. Of course we don’t always hear what we’d like to but we strive to understand and improve how we communicate our value to the world. Over the course of our feedback surveys, phone calls and emails, there have been 4 consistent themes in terms of reasons why not to utilize our service. Much of this comes from current customers who gave us a shot, stuck with us and shared how their perception changed.
Myth #1: “It’s only for those who don’t want to cook”
There is some truth in this. We have many customers who strongly dislike cooking and many who can’t cook due to illness or disability. That said, the majority of our over 1,200 customers report that they enjoy cooking to some degree, but they simply don’t want to cook every night, looking to save time and are seeking a healthier alternative to what we call the “the takeout trap” – getting home at 6pm, considering what dinner option to whip-up only to give in the speed dial or mobile app for the local pizza shop or Chinese restaurant. We’ve all been there! Our customers are typically just seeking a little help 2 or 3 nights a week from us. What we’ve found refreshing is hearing from them that cooking has become even more enjoyable, because it’s now on their terms.
Myth #2: “It’s not flavorful AND healthy”
In the past, consumers were limited in their meal delivery choices with the 2 major players being frozen options via mail order or takeout. These frozen options were viewed as “diet” food, often laden with sodium and certainly far from fresh. Takeout, while typically scoring well in flavor, is notoriously an unhealthy option with vast amounts of butter, sodium and sugar – we all enjoy takeout during the eating process, but it often leaves us with a heavy and regretful feeling later. We knew early on that our foods had to rank high in flavor AND healthfulness, so we put deep thought into a set of principles that would guide all of our food decisions as the company grew. These became “Our Food Manifesto” and “Ingredient Standards” that are still the bedrock for our company today. These principles apply to all aspects of our foods, from sourcing to creation. Just as important, we seek out those with an authentic passion for our type of nourishment to join the Culinary Team.
Myth #3: “It’s not that convenient”
In today’s dynamic, on-demand world, everything including food is just a few clicks away. Intermediary players in the food space like Seamless and GrubHub have opened up the takeout option to consumers with app-based ordering. They’ve set the bar in terms of convenience. We understood the importance of convenience in order to compete, but we decided to offer it in a different way. With the assumption that consumers would like nourishment 2-3 nights a week, we determined that just one delivery on Sunday night would be optimal. Similar to a grocery store run, this would allow customers to stock the fridge with dinners for the busy week ahead. Meals would then be readily available on weeknights without having to order that evening allowing customers to have dinner ready in minutes on a weeknight. This early assumption seems to have paid off, as customers report Sunday as hands down their preferred delivery option in our surveys. Additionally, after launching with a broad 3-hour Sunday night delivery window, we’ve been able to upgrade our technology to provide our “1-Hour Delivery Promise” which currently has a 99% hit rate. Our customers receive texts and emails Sunday morning with their 1-hour delivery windows, so they can make plans and go about their day. Lastly, we strive to provide an online “retail storefront” where education and shopping are easy and enjoyable.
Myth #4: “The service is pricey”
The Foodery was founded on the principle that “food is an investment”. We’ve always viewed food as a source of fuel, nourishment, enjoyment and ultimately health. The food choices we make for ourselves each day collectively form the basis for our well-being over the short and long-term. So ultimately, it’s the question of “what is one’s health worth?”. The modernization of food and agriculture has preached a contrary belief system, one that views food as a cheap, dispensable commodity that is untied to our well-being. One of our favorite author’s and food activists Michael Pollan’s brilliant response to this is : “Cheap food is an illusion. There is no such thing as cheap food. The real cost of the food is paid somewhere. And if it isn’t paid at the cash register, it’s charged to the environment or to the public purse in the form of subsidies. And it’s charged to your health.” We couldn’t agree more.
All of this being said, we do realize that price is an important part of the equation for consumers’ budgets. For The Foodery to make a meaningful difference in the world, it’s equally important to provide a pricing model that brings affordable nourishment to as many families as possible while providing healthy margins for growth. As we’ve grown, we’ve made substantial progress in terms of pricing. Our initial meals sold for $23/serving plus tax and delivery – of course, we had little purchasing power early on. Today, we’re thrilled to offer some of our meals at $10.40/ serving (all-in), and our average serving price sold is currently $13.25 (all-in) making our service extremely approachable. Customers often report us being about the same cost or even less expensive than their local takeout options, but of course far healthier. We’ll save a more in-depth analysis of “The Foodery vs. Takeout” for another blog since this one has gotten a bit lengthy!