What's going on?
Investors in American meal kit company Blue Apron were left feeling, ahem, blue on Thursday as the company reported disappointing results and its stock fell by 20%.
What does this mean?
Blue Apron’s subscribers receive regular boxes of ingredients and recipes to cook at home (Europeans: think HelloFresh). The company’s second quarter was thoroughly undercooked: revenues dropped by 25% compared to a year ago (tweet this), not to mention a 24% drop in customers (possibly as meal kit services from Amazon and Walmart emerge to eat Blue Apron’s lunch). Those who did stick around spent less on the service, on average. Womp.
Why should I care?
For you, personally: Everyone loves a good “unsubscribe” button.
Subscription businesses are a tough gig, especially when companies have to deal with product shipping costs (as opposed to a digital-only Netflix subscription). Another challenge with food subscriptions is that the product goes to waste if you don’t use it – not the case with Spotify, where you can listen at any time (even if you haven’t used it for a while). Rotting veg in the fridge can lead people to unsubscribe quickly. In response, companies might ramp up marketing spend and offer discounts, making it tough for investors to assess whether Blue Apron and friends will ever turn a profit.
For markets: A banquet of food platforms reported this week.
On Thursday, Delivery Hero (Germany’s answer to online takeaway food ordering and delivery platform, GrubHub) reported second-quarter results that were better than hoped. However, its stock dropped by 3% as it announced higher marketing costs in order to take on Dutch rival Takeaway.com (its shares also fell on Wednesday – similarly, it announced heavy marketing spend to compete against its German challenger). Shares of Just Eat fell on Tuesday, too, thanks to higher investment costs related to delivery logistics (the jury’s still out on whether such investments will pay off in food).