Survey Signals Meal Kits Are Not Just a Flash in the Pan

But it also finds more people buy in-store than online

April 3, 2017

A new survey found that in-store purchases of meal kits are more common than digital orders.

A Harris Poll conducted in December 2016 found that one-quarter of all US adults had purchased a meal kit—whether online or in-store—at some point in the past 12 months.

More people said they had made an in-store purchase than had done so digitally: Some 17% had purchased a meal kit in-store, but only 12% had bought one for delivery from services like Blue Apron, Plated or HelloFresh.

The penetration rate for online purchases found in the Harris Poll is lower than the results from surveys conducted by other firms earlier in 2016.

For instance, a survey by Acosta Sales & Marketing conducted in May 2016 found that 30% of US grocery buyers had ordered a meal delivery kit digitally.

And an AYTM Market Research survey in February 2016 found that 19.2% of internet users had used a delivered meal kit at least once.

The Harris and Acosta surveys, while finding different levels of overall meal kit usage, did parallel when it came to usage by age. Both found—unsurprisingly—that younger people were far more likely to have purchased a delivery kit.

In the Harris survey, 26% of internet users ages 18 to 34 had purchased a meal kit for delivery, compared with just 3% of those 55 and older.

By comparison, Acosta’s research found that 60% of respondents ages 18 to 35 had purchased a meal kit online, vs. just 10% of those 52 to 70.

Ultimately, whether they bought them digitally or in-store, younger people were far more likely to have tried a meal kit. Some 43% of those ages 18 to 34 in the Harris survey said they had bought a meal kit via either channel, compared with 9% of respondents 65 and older.

The Harris survey also found evidence that meal kits are not just a passing fancy: Seven in 10 meal kit purchasers are still actively buying them. And younger buyers appear to be more loyal to the products—eight in 10 of those 35 to 44 were still active purchasers. Among those over 55, less than half were still buying kits.

And the survey pointed out some ways that meal kits could build on their success—adding dessert, for one thing. Fully 86% of active meal kit purchasers gave a thumbs up to the idea of including a dessert in the box.