Interest in cookware surged back in March and April as life in quarantine became the norm. With restaurants closing, people who had never cooked before were stepping into the kitchen. Whether out of pandemic-induced boredom or out of necessity, a new hobby or a revived passion, novices and kitchen masters alike were investing in pots, pans, and appliances.
Facebook mentions for the high-end cookware retailer Williams-Sonoma peaked at 151,000 in March, the highest it's been since we started tracking the company's data in 2015. But that number has since plummeted by 97%.
KitchenAid saw a similar spike and decline, from 66,500 mentions in May down to 4,900 this month.
At the same time, we're seeing the rise of a different kind of cooking trend: meal kits. The meal kit industry has been growing for years, as work hours extend past 9-5 and people have less time to prepare food. And now that COVID-19 has made the grocery store a potential danger zone, there's a newfound practicality and even urgency surrounding meal kit delivery.
Of course, some meal kit services are faring better than others. HelloFresh's LinkedIn employee headcount has increased by 31% YTD, soaring above competitors like Gobble, Sun Basket, and Blue Apron. Headcounts for Freshly and Home Chef grew 14% and 13%, respectively.
HelloFresh's Apple App Store ratings count is up 62% YTD, while Blue Apron's are down 14%.
But the meal kit industry stragglers seem to have plans for growth. Blue Apron's job listings are up 28% YTD, Sun Basket's openings are up 18%, and HelloFresh's job postings are down 1%.
It remains to be seen whether the home cooking boom will outlast the COVID, but the return of restaurants could spell trouble for meal kit services and cookware companies alike.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.