Will its values-based approach turn Hive into an e-grocery powerhouse?

Discussion
Source: Hive Brands
Oct 27, 2020
Tom Ryan

With a mantra, “Buy What You Believe In,” a new e-grocer, Hive, aims to help grocery shoppers not only support sustainable foods but make a positive impact on the world.

Run by former managers at Jet.com, Casper and Freshpet, Hive offers “a curated assortment of brands — big and small — united by an unwavering commitment to sustainability and social good.”

Management has developed its own criteria, The Hive Five, to guide assortment decisions:

  1. Ingredient integrity: Brands with traceable sourcing and forward-thinking environmental
 practices are favored.
  2. Recyclable packaging: With recycled-content 
and recyclable materials at the forefront, a focus is on getting as close to a zero-waste model as possible.
  3. Low carbon footprint: Brands are sought that are calculating their carbon footprint and practicing offsets 
or using other third-party certifications.
  4. Committed to social good: Focusing on brands making better products, committing to diversity and inclusion practices and supporting quality social causes.
  5. Rave-worthy: Only carrying items that have been found by Hive’s team to taste great.

Hive writes in a press release, “The Hive Five standard eliminates the common pain points of researching and vetting brands that are truly better.”

The site includes in-depth information on each brand’s standards. Hive currently works with over 100 brand partners, including Tony’s Chocolonely, Maine’s Grains, 88 Acres and Bjorn Qorn.

Shoppers are also able to browse the site based on causes, such as poverty, the environment and education, spotlighting products and companies that specialize in each category. A “Discover” tab offers advice “on your conscious shopping journey.” After checking out, shoppers are offered a rundown of the social and sustainability impacts of purchases along with the pounds of carbon the company plans to offset for each shipment.

Hive cites Nieslen’s findings that 75 percent of Millennials are actively changing their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment and 80 percent are willing to pay more for products with social responsibility claims.

Said Thomas Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Hive, “Our mission is to guide consumers towards a more sustainable shopping experience, without compromise.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the potential appeal of Hive’s value-based approach to merchandising and marketing its business? Are there opportunities for other grocers to do more to help consumers make purchases based on their values?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I wish them luck, as the world needs more sustainable grocery options, but fear the deck is stacked against them."
"People buy “on purpose.” People’s expectations (as purchasers, consumers, and investors) have been raised."
"When you combine technology’s ability to hyper-target consumers with the rise of value-based lifestyle and consumption behavior, you create a company like Hive."

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18 Comments on "Will its values-based approach turn Hive into an e-grocery powerhouse?"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
CEO and President, Cogent Creative Consulting
1 month 4 hours ago

Combining environmentally-friendly and value-based may be a winning recipe to attract more consumers and curate loyal customers. The challenge is that shoppers will need to supplement their shopping with another store as Hive doesn’t sell all grocery categories. During the pandemic, many customers have appreciated the value of one-stop shopping and Hive has to make it compelling for shoppers to be environmentally conscious for the products they can. I like the concept, but it has a somewhat limited appeal.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I believe it largely depends on the ability of the shopper to fill their shopping list. If it is one more place to go to, online or otherwise, it seems the opportunity is limited. If they expand their SKUs so that a shopper can get everything they want at Hive instead of going to another retailer to fill in the voids, maybe they can fill a niche.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

So the appeal that products are better for the environment and support a consumer’s values will offset paying more for those products? I think there will be a segment that will buy into it, but I don’t know in this time where a large segment of customers who are holding on to their money or are more judicious about how or where they spend their money will decide to spend more on items based on their values. Who knows? I hope it does have traction.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I love this concept but have two concerns: timing and logistics. First, this is really tough timing to be launching a new brand based on an assortment full of higher-priced alternatives. Second, the article makes no mention of logistics and fulfillment strategies. How quickly will they deliver? How will they price for delivery? Value and (reliable) expediency are at a premium right now, and neither of these characteristics favor Hive’s approach, I am afraid. I wish them luck, as the world needs more sustainable grocery options, but fear the deck is stacked against them.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust
The Hive message is very simple and understandable – they are very much a marketing machine that has listened to what Millennials are worried about and put together an offering to address this. However two major problems exist. First, it is difficult to argue that any online retailer is that worried about the environment. Even if they offset carbon emissions it is not a great message. Second, can Millennials afford to pay for the luxury of this offering? The unfortunate timing of COVID-19 has put a lot more pressure on families, who are facing job losses and reduced hours resulting in less money to spend. Expensive brands that are eco-friendly may just not be attainable. Can Hive generate the volume necessary to be price competitive in a very tough market? They may also be a great place for other mainstream grocers to look at what they sell and incorporate those into their ranges to combat Hive. Great philosophy, I hope it works and give it my very best wishes, but it is going to be… Read more »
Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Overall it’s a nice approach for a limited set of consumers, but the devil is in the details for shoppers that are knowledgeable about what foods they purchase.

“Rave-worthy” is meaningless marketing hype. What retailer would say their products are not?

“Ingredient integrity” according to who? Checking a couple of brands, they are close but wouldn’t meet my family’s standards of “integrity.”

So within a space crowded by deep pockets, Hive is going to have a difficult uphill slog to grab a sliver of the online food market.

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

Sustainability and social responsibility have become greater areas of concern in 2020, driving consumers to think about their purchases differently – Hive fits into that niche perfectly.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Exactly — the niche.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Well, I’m going to have to go check this site out! So I think it’s a winner, but it’s not a winner among the poor. It’s yet another societal bifurcation in the U.S.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Note, after checking out the site and its somewhat meager assortment, I will amend to say they have a lot of work to do before it’s anything more than potential Shark Tank bait.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

Whoa — I feel like it’s 2019. This is the type of brand that was all the rage before the world was reduced to being concerned with the lowest rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – safety. Long-term I love the concept. My kids are all about sustainability and a low carbon footprint. However until this pandemic is over, I think a lot of people are going to continue to gravitate towards what they can buy cheaply, conveniently, and safely.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is a great concept, but I see a couple of challenges. First, this might be a difficult economic time to launch an offering with higher-priced merchandise, despite the good intentions and sustainability desires of their target market. Second, this relies on the target consumer to add this as another grocery destination – one where the customer can’t buy everything they need. Some consumers will be open to that, while some will not be interested in yet another shopping destination for groceries. This goes against the idea of convenience in an era where convenience seems to be winning out at all costs. I expect they will perform moderately well for now as both Millennials, and Gen Zers may appreciate the offering, but Hive may need to wait for a post-pandemic world and full economic recovery to really take off.

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

The potential appeal is high for this niche, i.e., the progressive urban conscious consumer appeal. It does have definite opportunities, but it doesn’t have to be the five values listed as Hive’s. It can also be other values that are appealing to other consumers, it’s more about learning the language of the consumer and adapting the messaging to that.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

This is and will remain a very challenging time for many families and for Hive to be truly appropriate and true to its values, it must address in more formal terms what it is doing to help support those in need who may not be able to afford many of the products and product categories showcased at Hive. Perhaps I missed something, but giving back to those in need would be a great incentive for those shoppers who are willing and can afford to pay more for products curated by Hive.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

When you combine technology’s ability to hyper-target consumers with the rise of value-based lifestyle and consumption behavior, you create a company like Hive. In addition to creating brand awareness and credibility, the company’s initial success will turn on their curated assortment’s social value fit and the quality of actionable insights derived from consumer data. To become a powerhouse, Hive will need to guard against any complacency from its initial success, ensure its supply chain network is scalable, and leverage advanced analytics to derive deep customer insights necessary to make sound strategic and operational decisions.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

People buy “on purpose.” People’s expectations (as purchasers, consumers, and investors) have been raised. Businesses must operate with multiple goals in mind, not just with a focus on the almighty dollar. Brands must realize the demand from consumers and shoppers to represent something greater. It is important to hold your brand to the higher standard now emerging. Brands can – and must – do a better job being transparent and communicating that purpose. And those that have yet to realize this trend must wake up and begin to transform their businesses to do greater good.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It’s a gamble: will the (presumed) attraction of “values” offset the self-limiting nature of having to discard brands that don’t adhere to them? I’ll make no bets, and I wish them well, but I think there will always be an advantage for retailers who can satisfy a wide range of consumers … including specifically those who don’t really understand “sacrifice.”

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

By all accounts, Hive has found a relevant marketing niche. With calls to action like “shop your values” and “buy what you believe in” they are definitely speaking to a very specific consumer; I just wonder if it’s enough consumers.

Undoubtedly this is going to appeal to the cause-driven, environmentally-dedicated consumers like the younger Millennials and even Gen Z. However, even as these consumers champion important causes, it’s rare that they fill an entire grocery cart with them. Consumers can support a cause but still buy products that are not “green.” In other words, dedicating an entire trip mission to the cause is ambitious. Not to mention the extra time needed to place another online order (or run to the store) for fresh produce–a category not covered by Hive but a place environmentally-minded consumers often start when they change consumption habits.

Really inspiring idea. Whether or not it will deliver on profitable scale is the question.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I wish them luck, as the world needs more sustainable grocery options, but fear the deck is stacked against them."
"People buy “on purpose.” People’s expectations (as purchasers, consumers, and investors) have been raised."
"When you combine technology’s ability to hyper-target consumers with the rise of value-based lifestyle and consumption behavior, you create a company like Hive."

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