Parsley Box Hits the Big Screen

Using the extensive experience in DRTV within Move Fresh we helped the Parsley Box team on making their very first TV ad

Take a look

Why I wouldn’t invest in meal kit companies

Over the last week or so Hello Fresh became a public company on the Frankfurt stock exchange. This follows Blue Apron listing on Nasdaq earlier in the summer. Both companies (along with Gousto in the UK) have raised many. many millions of investment, mainly pumped into customer recruitment.

I do agree that FMCG will move – more and more online – as consumer habits change from large central supermarket purchases to more local smaller retailers (such as Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Metro) but  I don’t agree that any of these companies have yet grown into their current (and sagging) valuations.

Customer recruitment costs continue to increase with stiff competition and poor retention and margin statistics does not suggest that growth will continue.

There is a business here, but I think trying to force growth with more discounted offers and higher recruitment cost is only good for new customers – not for shareholders.

Some consolidation may well happen to remove duplication over geographies and headcount – but until then I will stick to shopping for myself either online or at my local store.

If you need to know more check this video out on marketing as a percentage of sales

Update from Parsley Box

We launched our latest brand Parsley Box around 8 weeks ago.  In this age of digital media and engagement we have seen a lack of digital channels that work for this demographic but have rejoiced in moving back into traditional media (print, direct mail, catalogues!).

Today most digital media talks about response rate, click through rate and conversion rate – all skills that have been prevalent in traditional direct response for many years before it was taken over by digital.

Having recruited more than 1,000 customers in this short period we are using old mechanics like the catalogue to engage in the same way that we use email in many of our other brands.

The majority of our orders are taken on the telephone and we are hearing great stories from our customers that we plan to use in future media.

Finally, TV is going to play a part – and next week we plan to shoot our first TV ad for Parsley Box.

While recipe box companies pile into competitive areas hankering after the aloof millennial we are sticky to the knitting and using direct marketing techniques to broaden our customer base.

Stay tuned for our latest advert once it’s complete in the next few weeks

What we all want

With the Harvey Weinstein allegations and recent news from Westminster sexism and discrimination is very much on the agenda.

As a child of the 1970’s I do feel very old when I look back on the media of my youth and see what was considered acceptable at that time.

Watching Benny Hill or the Carry On films today is quite hard: essentially the jokes are about sexual harassment or in some cases sexual assault on women. It’s very hard nowadays to see how that could possibly have been seen as funny.

The positive side is that it is great to see the progress we have made and how unacceptable the humour of the past is today. What would have been regarded as radical feminism is the 1970’s is today completely mainstream.

A couple of days ago my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and I said a few words about life in 1967 when they married. In the UK in 1967 it was illegal to consummate a male gay relationship and jobs were advertised with one salary for a female employee and a higher salary for a male employee doing the same job. Racial discrimination was also legal and widespread although 1967 saw the very first black policeman in the UK.

At Move Fresh we have a very diverse customer base, more female than male with many races and religions well represented. Kevin and I are both middle aged white men but we love having diverse customers and staff. We both have daughters which I think makes both of us think more about sexism.

All of us are looking for healthy, tasty food and drink delivered to our homes in a convenient way at a good price. We very much hope that everyone feels welcome at Move Fresh.

Brexit

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to write a note on Brexit. It’s a difficult issue to write about as Move Fresh takes a completely politically neutral view and Brexit is a very political subject on which people have very strong views.

As a company, Kevin and I have taken a view that we should not get involved in political issues. This because a) taking a political view annoys a large number of customers and investors and b) although we are pretty good at running a business that skill is not necessarily transferrable into political subjects. Just because someone knows how to make a lot of money does not qualify them to make pronouncements on the big issues of the day.

Which also brings me on to the subject that what is good for business is not always good for society. A classic example would be the Equal Pay Act 1970 which required companies to increase women’s pay to being the same rate as men who were doing the same job. Nobody today would argue against this. However it was bad for business at the time as it resulted in an increased cost but clearly was a great thing for society as a whole.

Taking a view on Brexit is mainly about making a prediction about the future. As Yogi Berra, the baseball star for non-Americans, said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

It is even harder to make a prediction about the future when i) you do not know what the UK government wants and ii) you do do not know if whatever they may want is achievable.

However what we do know is that somewhere in the region of 70% of the UK economy is dependent to a lesser extent (tariffs) or a greater extent (being prevented completely from operating) on membership of the EU. If we assume for the sake of argument that Brexit will ultimately be economically a good thing we have the issue that we have to move from a situation where 70% of the UK economy depends on the EU to a situation where 0% of the UK economy depends on the EU.

So, if Brexit ultimately turns out to be a good thing then we still need to handle a migration of 70% of the economy away from depending on EU membership. It is very difficult to envisage a way this could happen without it being at least a short term negative, unless there was a very lengthy 5-10 year transition period which has been ruled out by both the EU and the UK government.

A way to think about this would be that the set of opportunities for business outside the EU may be greater than the set of opportunities for businesses inside the EU but the intersection between the two sets is small. Therefore many businesses may fail today, even if the future opportunity is better.

So in summary, Brexit looks like a short term negative with the long term being either negative or positive depending on what policy the government decides to adopt and whether or not that policy is achievable.

The only political point I will make is that for Move Fresh we would appreciate greater clarity on what the UK government’s position is so that we can plan the future.

Welcoming Parsley Box

This month we launched Parsley Box,  a new innovative food service for seniors in the UK.

Having researched the sector for a number of years, we believe that current providers haven’t thought enough about the consumer in this segment and what they want.

We offer next working day delivery throughout the UK and a great range of meals that can be served in 3 minutes.

The ageing population in the UK and the focus on care at home has increased this market significantly.

Early indications are very positive with some great reviews from new customers and significant levels of reorder.

 

 

 

Amazon buys Whole Foods

Amazon acquires Whole Foods Market

Amazon (AMZN) announced on Friday that it was acquiring Whole Foods (WFM) in a move to extend its reach into Grocery.

We have long said that Grocery is one of the last areas of e-commerce penetration and although many have tried (Ocado for example) most have failed with a pure play e-commerce offering. This is mainly due to the complex nature of the supply chain and the fact that a large part of the product base is perishable.

We have followed a number of “foodtech” businesses for the last 5-10 years and competing with the integrated nature of traditional store based retail has been very hard.

The market view is that Whole Foods give Amazon access to both local distribution hubs (historically called stores) and a very integrated and unique supply chain. Whole Foods has a strong presence in North America and a few stores in the UK but has great coverage in the US in demographically richer neighbourhoods (Whole Paycheck).

But for FMCG brands the creation of Amazon as a retailer and a potential competitor will be an interesting area to watch. We suspect a number of brands may have to increase there own technology investment and this might be based on so called “acquihires” of struggling startup in the sector.

Good news for brands – but not fantastic news for investors who have paid high multiples to fuel the burn within a number of these companies.

Long term we think this is great for the consumer, great for Amazon shareholders and fantastic for brands that have well developed e-commerce capability – allowing them to leverage the investment that Amazon is making in this sector. Not great for Walmart though!

Blue Apron files S1

Blue Apron

Blue Apron (www.blueapron.com) one of the US leading meal kit companies filed its S-1 on Friday giving us some insight into the burgeoning meal kit delivery market.

Although we like the sector, in general, we still feel that churn is the major enemy within this area. Working on around 30% gross margin is fine but 3-year cohort data shows $939 of LTV.  This offers around $280 dollars of contribution before marketing costs.

2016 marketing costs seemed to come in around $144 per customer making a post-marketing contribution (before overheads) of $136. This is spread over 3 years so the cohort is delivering $93 per annum, giving marketing payback at around 18 months.

Everyone in this sector has raised vast amounts of investment and with around $745m in revenue in 2016 Blue Apron is definitely a business of scale. Losses have narrowed but to keep the churn rates in check the business needs to keep investing heavily in marketing.

You can read the full S-1 here.

Online Grocery sales reach 7.3%

Kantar Worldpanel have released new research about the level of Grocery e-commerce adoption both in the UK and worldwide.

The UK hass grown from 6.7% to 7.3% in 12 months,  we alsso see evidence of both higher value basket sizes online compared with similiar offline purchasses.

We expect to see this continue. Interestingly, South Korea is at 19.7%, so plenty scope to grow within the UK.

Full article: https://www.kantarworldpanel.com/en/PR/UK-online-grocery-sales-reach-73-market-share-

Digital first?

There are an enormous number of marketing job adverts that say the prospective employee should have a “digital first” outlook.

This is something we disagree with quite strongly. The approach should be “cost per customer acquired first” which may well result in the choice of a digital channel but that is a completely different thing from starting with a prejudiced view that the digital channel will work best.

Nowadays the main digital advertising channels are based on Generalised Second Price auctions. In an ordinary auction (called an English auction) a product will be sold to the highest bidder at the price they bid. In a GSP auction, the first place will go to the highest bidder who will pay the price of the second bidder and so on. (Bids are adjusted by Google based on Click Thru Rates as of course the highest bidder may not receive clicks and will therefore not have to pay for their bid.)

The good news is that the GSP is sightly less prone to the Winner’s Curse than the English Auction (as we need more than one bidder to get their bid wrong). But it is still the case that the number of participants in the auction will tend to increase the price per customer acquired.

At Move Fresh we have found that many of the PPC auctions have now increased so much in cost that we are much better buying more conventional media (such as inserts).

The point is that we are not a digital first marketing company: we are an acquisition first company. We are completely agnostic on media. We think “digital first” is as dangerous as suggesting that a company should focus purely on traditional marketing.

It’s what works.

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