Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones and appreciating all the bounty life has to offer. But let’s be honest—it’s also about stuffing yourself with food, collapsing in a heap on the couch and joining the bargain-hunting masses on Black Friday.
What could be more American than that?
This year things may be different. Some of that stuffing may come from a subscription meal kit…and some of the gifts that get bought the next day may be for other subscription services.
According to recent data from Cardlytics, the amount of money spent on meal kit subscription services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Home Chef grew 311 percent from 2014 to 2015. The subscribers to these services are valuable target customers for grocery and specialty food chains—they spend 28 percent more per grocery trip than average food shoppers. But here’s the catch: Once they start buying meal kits, they start spending less at markets and restaurants. Cardlytics’ purchase insights show that consumers who subscribe to meal kits drop their restaurant share of spend by 4.2 percentage points post subscription.
What’s the appeal of meal kits? They take the stress out of meal planning for harried consumers and offer a more satisfying alternative to endless takeout. And the companies are as hot as the meals consumers are cooking. Home Chef, for instance, is now delivering over 1.5 million meals a month and just closed a $40 million financing round. “It’s rewarding to be a key part of the growth of the meal kit industry and to help consumers enjoy home cooked meals while, in many cases, spending less than they would for the same ingredients at the grocery store,” says Home Chef founder and CEO Pat Vihtelic.
Beyond meal kits, online subscriptions may be one of this year’s hot gifts. Last holiday season alone, 8.6 million Americans visited sites like Birchbox, Bean Box and BarkBox, according to Shorr Packaging Corp., which makes the boxes many of these products come in.
As the holidays approach, competition among these services will be fierce. That’s why some of the big players are planning unique Thanksgiving-themed marketing campaigns to keep their customers engaged.
Travel: As always, Uber is offering a safe ride home for revelers overcome by a turkey-induced tryptophan coma. This year, however, the ride-sharing service has teamed up with Ikea on a New York City-based promotion called Friendsgiving.
On Saturday, November 19th, the first 200 residents of the five boroughs who enter the correct promo code inside the Uber app will receive a kit containing Ikea cooking implements, holiday ingredients and custom recipes, delivered to their door by an Uber driver. Each Friendsgiving kit will feed up to 8 friends.
Food: Not surprisingly, meal-in-a-box subscription services like Blue Apron are offering special holiday menus (such as Blue Apron’s Thanksgiving roast turkey and cranberry sauce with brussels sprouts).
Blue Apron is also taking the “giving” part seriously. For the fourth year in a row, it is encouraging customers to donate meals to local food banks to be distributed to needy families. Over the last three years Blue Apron customers have donated 125,000 meals. The company hopes to equal that amount this year alone.
Shopping: Over the last decade, bargain hunting has become as predictable a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as pumpkin pie and Pilgrims. To help plan your retail assault, BlackFriday.com, which aggregates holiday shopping deals for scores of retailers and manufacturers, offers predictions as to when each will announce their Black Friday deals on its website.
And to keep traffic and crowds from harshening your holiday buzz, Waze will aggregate its data to reveal the best and worst times to travel over the holidays. This year, the crowd-sourced traffic and navigation app plans to promote themed driving days—like “Day in the Life of a Black Friday on Waze”—and produce a video for its site that lets bargain hunters know what they’ll be in for.
For example, Waze customers are more likely to hit sales that start at midnight on turkey day, but less likely to shop at dinner time on Friday—probably so they can get home before all the leftovers are gone.