Tag Archives: distribution

Meal Kits Rebound

Meal kits have been around for a number of years. When they first launched, the novelty and ease of use quickly drove the subscriptions up. But sales plateaued as competitors proliferated and differentiation between companies was missing. After all, how many meal subscriptions does a household need? The cost of the first sale was high, and competitors all seemed to be trying to reach the same target market. Growth stalled.

But, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the dynamics of the market once again. With more people staying at home, restaurants closed, and fear of the virus in crowded places such as supermarkets, meal kits are primed for a resurgence. According to Nielsen Research, consumer spending on meal kits in April of this year is nearly double the level from the same period a year ago.

Restaurants also are getting in on the action with Panera Break readying a launch of its own make-your-own salad and sandwich kits. It is being joined by other dining chains such as Denny’s, Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack, and others. Doing an Internet search for “meal subscription boxes” brings up dozens of options for meal and snack subscriptions!

Environmental conditions have a big impact.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of environmental scanning in marketing.
  2. What are the environmental factors that are impacting the meal kit industry?
  3. How can meal kit companies use this information to retain and grow their customer base?
  4. Divide students into team. Have each team research one of the following meal kit companies, or another of their choosing:

Hello Fresh: https://www.hellofresh.com/

Home Chef: https://www.homechef.com/

Sun Basket: https://sunbasket.com/

Blue Apron: https://www.blueapron.com/

Freshly: https://www.freshly.com/

  1. How are these companies different? How are they similar? What is the value offered by each company?
  2. Have students build a SWOT analysis chart for the company.

Source: Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Back to Basics: Toilet Paper

We consumers are a strange bunch. One minute we are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Suddenly the world changes seemingly overnight and consumers take drastic and unusual shopping actions.

In this case, what was once a stable item – toilet paper – became a hot product in high demand as the coronavirus hit the U.S. According to Nielsen, in the first week of social distancing guidelines, toilet paper demand increased 120% versus the same time last year. Customers began buying toilet paper in bulk and ratcheted up hoarding of the commodity product. This type of reaction is not uncommon during times of stress when consumers feel a need to control at least one aspect of their lives.

Why the shortage though? In part, it is because toilet paper manufacturing and distribution flows through an efficient, tightly-controlled supply chain. Since it is a bulky product to ship and shelve, retailers keep low inventory on-hand and depend on frequent shipments to replenish stock.

On average, the volume a household consumes toilet paper is about 141 rolls per year. But, during the current crisis, consumers are going through more toilet paper at home since more people are working at home and not venturing out to restaurants, retailers, and other out-of-home events.

Be kind. Share.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a brief video about toilet paper supply chain: https://youtu.be/By2mmIUzG-w
  4. Another video choice: https://youtu.be/NiQKvfo3l94
  5. View Cottonelle’s Web site and it’s plea for kindness and sharing: https://www.cottonelle.com/en-us/share-a-square
  6. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  7. What can be done to better produce and manage products such as toilet paper during times of crisis?

Source: Ad Week; Associated Press; Nielsen Research; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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