With restaurants still closed for indoor dining in the UK as a result of a new surge in COVID-19 cases, many are once again turning to meal kits as an enjoyable dinnertime alternative. But with a seemingly endless number of meal kit startups entering the market, how can one separate itself from the rest and thrive amid the competition?
Gousto, a London, England-based meal kit startup founded in 2012, found a way to differentiate itself in the crowded market by capitalizing on two things: tech and trends. While restaurants had to quickly adapt to takeout and delivery models, Gousto remained intact from the start of the pandemic into the new year. Not only has it remained intact, but its success has pleased both customers and investors.
“Obviously, COVID-19 has been a very unfortunate event, but as a business, we’ve actually benefitted as people have sought out a convenient, quick, healthy way to eat, avoiding the trip to the supermarket, avoiding seeing people in the nicest sense,” Stephen Burow, Gousto’s VP of finance told Financial Magazine in an interview. It’s not just a fear of the supermarket that has helped elevate Gousto’s gusto, but its use of tech and the ability to prioritize existing customers.
Since customer acquisition is expensive for a meal kit company, Gousto decided to focus on fulfilling existing customer orders since production capacity was temporarily constrained at the beginning of the pandemic. Gousto acquired many of its pre-pandemic customers through online discounts and Facebook advertising, but it certainly isn’t turning away new customers.
Since the company’s inception, it has invested in capturing customer data to improve internal operations as well as develop a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Everything from the device customers signed up on to purchasing behavior over the first few months, to more palpable data such as socio-demographic background, is collected to predict future orders and help Gousto financially forecast.
When creating new recipes for meal kits, Gousto not only considers consumer purchasing patterns, but also food trends. The latest and most timely of these trends is Veganuary, when people around the world pledge to go vegan for the month of January. With the vegan movement in mind, Gousto recently launched a line of vegan meal kits under the name Plant Bistro. Since Plant Bistro targets new vegans, the menu aims to provide substitutes for dishes that new vegans might miss, including tofu fish fingers and pulled aubergine tacos.
Over the past year alone, website traffic growth has increased by 67 percent, social media growth on Instagram has increased by 65 percent and most impressively, app download growth has increased by 72 percent. And as of November 2020, Gousto has delivered an average of six million meals per month to UK customers, surpassed its 2019 revenue and earned an impressive rating of 4.8 out of five on the Google Play store.
With its remarkable growth in 2020, Gousto recently moved beyond social media marketing and released a new ad titled “Give It Some” that will appear on TV and digital. Earning a spot in Adweek, the vibrant, colorful commercial captures the company’s range of recipes and the enjoyment it can evoke in the kitchen.
As Europe’s latest food startup unicorn (a startup valued at over $1 billion), 2021 is looking good for Gousto.