D2C Food Brands Target Males With Prepared Meals

More men than women are buying food online, and D2C companies are adjusting their offerings accordingly.

For instance, meal kit business HelloFresh announced this month the expansion of its direct-to-consumer (D2C) ready-to-eat subsidiary, Factor, launching the business Canada. The offering is live in Ontario with a nationwide expansion coming soon.

“Doubling down on our investments in the ready-to-eat market and bringing Factor to Canada is a key pillar of HelloFresh’s long-term growth strategy…,” HelloFresh Co-founder and CEO Dominik Richter said in a statement. “Ready-to-eat allows us to offer new meal occasions and unlock new customer segments, such as more male customers, single households and convenience seekers.”

Indeed, men are both more likely to need prepared meal options. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data found that women are significantly more likely than men to spend their time cooking, such that men who do not have someone cooking for them must seek ready-to-eat alternatives. In a given day, 86% of women spend time doing housework, compared to just 71% of men, and women spend 2.7 hours on these household tasks on average, while men spend only 2.2 hours.

Plus, PYMNTS research found that men are more likely to purchase their food online, such that D2C food businesses would be well served to target their offerings to these more digitally connected customers.

Research from the November/December edition of PYMNTS’ ConnectedEconomy™ study, “ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Gender Divide Edition,” for which PYMNTS surveyed more than 2,600 U.S. consumers, found that 42% of men buy groceries online, compared to just 31% of women. Similarly, 54% of men place restaurant orders online, while only 47% of women do the same.

Consequently, D2C food businesses have been increasingly moving into the ready-to-eat space. Over the course of last year, a number of meal kit companies did the same, targeting the spending of those who have no interest in cooking from scratch, even when those ingredients are pre-portioned and the recipes clearly laid out. Berlin-based meal kit provider Marley Spoon noted over the summer that its acquisition of Australian heat-and-eat meal company Chefgood drove incremental sales in the subsidiary’s home country.

Similarly, meal kit company Blue Apron announced around the same time the launch of “Heat & Eat” microwavable meals and of “Fast & Easy” one-pan or one-pot dinners that take under a half hour to make.

Moreover, brick-and-mortar grocers and traditional food brands are looking to compete with these D2C businesses for consumers’ ready-made meal spending. Food giant Campbell Soup Company shared last month that, as of the first quarter of fiscal year 2023, consumption of its ready-to-serve soups is up 9% year over year and 18% relative to 2019.

“Our consumer insights show that consumers continue to cut back on out-of-home eating and are migrating for more expensive grocery categories as they seek ways to ease the impact of inflation,” Mark Clouse, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, told analysts on a call.

Indeed, research from PYMNTS’ August study “Digital Economy Payments: Consumers Buy Into Food Bargains,” which drew from a survey of nearly 2,700 U.S. consumers, found that 37% of consumers bought prepared food on their most recent grocery trip. As consumers, especially males, continue to seek convenient food options that are not as expensive as restaurant meals, D2Cs and grocers alike have the opportunity to drive spending and win these customers’ loyalty with ready-to-go options.

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