Blue Apron, provider of chef-designed recipes delivered to your door in an insulated box, kicked off a series of events across multiple cities this summer with the goal of celebrating home cooking, promoting its recipe products and getting to know its expanding consumer base through interactive cooking experiences and in-person conversations. Dubbed “Unboxed,” the event series included a month-long experiential retail location throughout June in New York City’s Flatiron District, movie nights in Austin, Dallas and Minneapolis, and a 40-foot shipping container in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle featuring four different multisensory, immersive experiences.
The brand’s strategy was to use cooking as a connector between its test kitchen chefs, new and existing consumers and the brand itself. The “Unboxed” events were mainly about “taking what has been a traditionally digital-first product and bringing it into the community and then interacting with our consumer base in person through fun and interactive and immersive experiences,” says Michelle Chiu, vp-experiences at Blue Apron.
“The idea behind all of it was about discovery and exploration of our brand and our product lines,” says Chiu. “A lot of people are familiar with our name, Blue Apron, but this gave us an opportunity to build different platforms roaming across the nation, to be able to meet them where they are and help them to better understand what it is that we do and how we can be more accessible for the different lifestyles across our consumer base.”
You Might Also Like:
- Taste of Home Cooks its Culinary Event Series to Perfection
- Spam Sizzles With a Fair and Festival Tiny House Tour
And that consumer base is expanding, Chiu says. “When we were younger as a company we attracted more people in their twenties and their thirties. But as we’ve evolved in the last five years, what we see now is that our product actually reaches such a range of ages and demographics… and that our menus are so varied in the different cuisines that we cover and the flexibility we have with our plans, whether it’s two-person or four servings, whether it’s vegetarian or not,” Chiu says.
The brand’s broadening demographic was reflected in its New York City retail pop-up, which featured weekly themes of cooking classes and demos, events and author panels throughout the day and evening. Week one, all about “Party Vibes,” highlighted the brand’s Party Box which was being piloted over the summer. A feast for six people including a full main course, two sides and two apps, the box was brought to life through cooking classes over the weekend. An author panel touched on hosting parties and a rosé wine and cheese tasting added to the fiesta feel.
Week two took it up a notch with a “Chef University” theme, which targeted consumers with chef skills that were a bit more sophisticated. These self-identified foodies enjoyed pasta-making classes and making sauces from scratch, “to elevate our home chefs and help them to take their chef skills to the next level,” Chiu says.
The third week, called “Fam Jam,” celebrated family relationships. (It helped that Father’s Day fell during that weekend.) As examples, during the daytime Blue Apron catered to “stroller families” with yogurt parfait and on the weekend hosted a cookie decorating activity for the whole family.
Lastly, week four was for “Besties & Baes,” which conveniently took place during Pride Week. Chiu says the brand often receives letters detailing the friendships that have blossomed from home cooking with Blue Apron, and most recently, the brand has gotten involved in weddings. Activities and classes included date night, a doggie-friendly event where consumers could bring their furry best friend, and smoothies in the afternoon. The brand also made its grab-and-go kits, normally sold at select Costco stores across the country, available for purchase in the retail store for working professionals in the Flatiron area who just wanted to stop by, grab a kit and cook at home.
Also part of the event series were movie nights in Austin, Dallas and Minneapolis, designed as a family night out with games, unlimited popcorn, samples of Blue Apron food and family-oriented movies like “Ratatouille.” “It was an evening out for families to come and enjoy, because we feel like food is something that brings really good moments to life and we want to participate in the unboxing of those moments with our customers,” Chiu says.
The final “Unboxed” event took place in San Francisco with a 40-foot shipping container that was converted into four spaces around four passion points: see, taste, smell and touch. Since the brand’s West Coast customers are passionate about the brand’s sourcing strategy, Blue Apron created a story surrounding that theme. Vegetables hung from the ceiling in a rainbow array. A floor-to-ceiling coloring book showcased all the brand’s sourcing partners and suppliers. Consumers could open up jars filled with ingredients and smell what inspired the chefs’ recipes. And consumer stories and testimonials covered the walls. “All these different ways gave a fun moment for folks to come and interact with our product, interact with our brand, but at the same time be a moment and an opportunity for us to educate them on our product.” Agencies: TH Productions, New York City; Rebel & Rogue, New York City.