Blue Apron is making a marketing comeback. For the first time since 2018, the direct-to-consumer meal kit company is once again making a serious investment in marketing, rebounding from slumping sales and stalling subscriptions in 2019.
In April, the New York-based company took its first step by rolling out national 15- and 30-second spots on linear and connected TV as well as online video in an effort to build brand awareness and stand out in the crowded lunch kit. market.
The brand’s rebound effort stems from $82 million in investments raised by Blue Apron to drive brand growth, according to a press release. Blue Apron’s marketing spend increased 68% year over year, reaching $21 million at the end of last year.
“We’re financially in a position to spend on marketing in the right, efficient but smart way, and really rebuild that top-of-funnel awareness,” said Dani Simpson, CMO of Blue Apron, adding that the brand is focused on video advertising efforts to build that awareness. “[Last year] was really leading to a time where we can invest in our brand with a comprehensive media approach that we intend to continue.
It’s unclear exactly what Blue Apron’s ad spend looks like, as Simpson declined to provide details. Last year, Blue Apron spent just under $5 million on media, compared to nearly $8 million spent in 2020, according to Kantar. In 2019, Blue Apron spent just under $500,000 on media. These numbers do not include social media spend as Kantar does not track these numbers.
In 2019, DTC drastically reduced its marketing spend in an effort to recover after suffering a major financial loss, as previously reported by Digiday. Part of DTC’s stimulus plan was to “only spend money to acquire customers that it can recoup the money it spent to acquire them within a year,” according to the Digiday reports.
Linear and connected TV are two major elements of the brand’s new marketing strategy as the DTC brand seeks to build brand awareness. Blue Apron currently features 15- and 30-second spots, produced by Brooklyn-based agency Quirk Creative, featuring Blue Apron’s recipes and convenience. They aim to reach consumers who haven’t tried the meal kits, according to the brand.
“There’s also this resurgence of where else can we talk about,” Simpson said. “Television, when you talk about notoriety, gives you the greatest reach, the national reach. So basically that’s what we did.
In recent years, improvements in technology have made digital video advertising measurable and attributable, making it a viable marketing channel for Blue Apron’s revamped marketing efforts, per Simpson. In addition to video advertising, DTC is exploring direct mail, programming and content partnerships with publishers like BuzzFeed and Food52 this year. The Facebook Ads Manager reveals that the brand currently runs paid video and static image ads.
This year, according to Simpson, Blue Apron is in a financial position to rebuild its marketing strategy, focusing its efforts on brand awareness and diversifying the media mix.
“It’s not a pilot for whether the brand campaign is working or not,” she said. “Chains are a pilot to see what is the right mix and what is the right spend.”
Blue Apron is not alone in its digital video advertising efforts. Brands like Merrell shoes and Quility Insurance have also invested in CTV and streaming efforts.
According to Steve Diamond, creative director at Rain the Growth Agency, DTC brands are increasingly stepping up their awareness efforts, relying heavily on CTV and streaming as vehicles to build awareness.
“CTV appeals to brands that want the impact of television without the expense,” Diamond said via email. “But because these digital-native brands can target very specific audiences this way, they feel like they’re being smarter with their budgets.”