Operational Assessment: Thrive Market’s Unnecessary Convenience

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I heard about Thrive Market the same way I hear about most health-conscious, luxe lifestyle products aimed at millennials: through incessant podcast ads. Once several of my favorite earworms started promoting the service as a budget-friendly, convenient way to order organic groceries, I was irrevocably influenced and tried it out.

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Thrive Market is a membership-based grocery delivery service that offers discounted prices on organic foods, beverages, and household cleaning supplies. They’re essentially Whole Foods, without the produce, available online for $60 a year plus the cost of each delivery. You can order one-off deliveries or set up a monthly auto-ship to stock up on favorites.

Thrive Market’s website sports an extensive library of products that’ll look familiar to anyone who’s a sucker for bold, cutesy millennial branding — think $10 boxes of pasta, $8 dried mangoes, and $19 bags of nuts filled with color-mapped nutritional value. At Thrive Market, organic food doesn’t just mean premium manufacturing practices; it also means a heartfelt family origin story on the back of each bag of cheesy popcorn.

Every delivery from Thrive Market is packed meticulously with webbed cardboard filler that keeps bottles intact, chip bags inflated, and jars from breaking. Nothing was ever leaking, opened, or missing from an order, and refrigerated and frozen goods were kept separately in dry ice bags so nothing ever arrived melty or warm.

Sign Up For Thrive Market

My first few orders from Thrive, which arrived monthly, were superb. Their intuitive website was easy to use and the bright colors convinced me I was the kind of trendy person who’d use a five-pound bag of lentils in a timely manner.

After a few months of auto-shipments with Thrive, I started to notice a few issues with the service. Sure, I was saving money on each individual product, but their website led to more impulse purchases and less control since I couldn’t physically see how much I was buying. I ended up ordering more than I needed, and spending much more, on a monthly basis. I also had to stay on top of the auto-shipments, since missing the deadline meant I’d get charged $100+ for stuff I didn’t need or want. I’ve skipped about 8 months of auto-shipments at this point, and I’m not sure I’ll ever begin using them again.

Thrive is great for pantry staples like red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, and flour — heavy, bulky liquids and principal ingredients that are a pain in the ass to haul home from the store. The problem is the average home cook doesn’t need to buy those very often, and it’s not worth sporting an entire subscription to get another delivery service to save a few bucks on a bottle of olive oil. If you live alone or with a partner, it’s probably not worth it financially.

The other problem is you still have to go to the grocery store to buy produce, something Thrive doesn’t even sell. That means shopping at Thrive Market adds an extra step in getting everything you need for a week of cooking. Most of the things sold on Thrive are also sold at local stores, and I found myself saving money, despite the slightly higher costs, by simply purchasing them there less often when I was grabbing everything else.

Each of my Thrive Market orders saved me around $30-$40 off of what I would’ve spent on the same items at the grocery store. However, I was spending around $200 per month with them, some of which was to re-up on things I didn’t need to replenish yet, on top of  $60-$80 at the store each week. Ultimately, the size of my Thrive Market orders wasn’t necessary. By skipping my auto-shipments, my grocery bills have increased to around $100 per week, but I’m buying and wasting less.

Thrive Market would be great for a few types of people.  If I lived in a large city, far from organic grocery stores, and had to take public transportation to grab a can of Bianco Dinapoli tomatoes, I’d probably prefer to save the trip and just do an online order. Also, if I lived way out in the burbs and my only options were big box stores where gluten-free, organic chocolate chips were a comedic bit rather than an option, I’d sign up for Thrive Market.

Sign Up For Thrive Market

I live in the Midwest and travel to and from my local Whole Foods and multiple organic co-ops with a car, so I don’t fall into either category.

Buying in bulk each month from Thrive also requires a lot of storage space. Small apartments with minimal kitchens may not jive with ordering a month’s worth of canned goods in one fell swoop. Again, my midwestern apartment is large enough to accommodate, but I still found it unnecessary.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve ordered from Thrive Market, and I’m still saving more money by purchasing less overall.  But I have yet to cancel the membership entirely, in case there comes a time when I can’t stand to wander down the “Baking and Canned Goods” aisle yet again. Perhaps the day will come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Thrive Market

Is Thrive Market Worth It?

For a locally-owned organic cafe looking to save on bulk pantry staples? Perhaps. A large health-conscious family whose grocery shopper had a bad experience involving olive oil and a public city bus? Definitely. For me, a childless woman who lives with her partner mere blocks from three different grocery stores, no.

How Does Thrive Market Work?

Thrive Market is an organic grocery subscription service that costs $5 a month and gives you access to cheaper organic products. Every month you have the option to place a one-off delivery or auto-ship your go-to snacks, canned goods, and pantry staples directly to your home with carbon-neutral shipping.

How Much is Thrive Market?

It costs $5 per month, not including the cost of the groceries. I saved an average of $30-$40 per order of around $200.

Does Thrive Market Sell Other Organic Household Products?

Yes! They also have cleaning supplies and grooming and beauty items as well. Think about how Whole Foods has those aisles of expensive lotions you glance at headed towards the fish counter. They also have supplements, but beware of misleading labels.

Is Thrive Market Only for Almond Moms?

Certainly not. Celery dads, kale step sisters, and protein bar boyfriends can all find something satisfying on their website.

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