National Advertising Division (NAD)

BBB National Programs National Advertising Division Finds Home Chef’s “More Flexibility than HelloFresh” Claims Supported but Recommends it Modify Certain “Customize It” Claims

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Brett, Vice President, NAD, 212.705.0109 / lbrett@bbbnp.org


New York, NY – Jan. 15, 2020 - The National Advertising Division concluded that Relish Labs, LLC d/b/a Home Chef provided a reasonable basis for its claims that Home Chef meal kit delivery service, with its Customize It feature, offers consumers more flexibility than HelloFresh, following a challenge by Grocery Delivery E-Services, USA d/b/a HelloFresh, a competing meal kit delivery service. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify or discontinue other challenged claims for its Home Chef meal kit delivery service. The challenged claims appeared in website, social media, direct-to-consumer mail advertisements, and YouTube Videos.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB NP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claims that Home Chef meal kit delivery service, with its Customize It feature, offers consumers more flexibility (freedom) than HelloFresh, such as “We give you more of what you want with Customize It: more meal choices, more meat options, and more flexibility than HelloFresh!”  NAD noted that although the advertiser does not offer all protein options on all meals, it cannot be disputed that Home Chef’s Customize It program offers a significant number of opportunities to either upgrade (or not) switch out the protein (thereby changing the recipe) or increase the amount of protein in its weekly meal selections.

Notwithstanding this determination, NAD had concerns as to how the advertiser presented its Customize It feature to consumers in its advertising, as well as its “more choices,” “new choices each week,” and “Rated #1 in Customer Satisfaction” claims.

NAD considered the message reasonably conveyed by Home Chef’s descriptive claims such as, “With the NEW Customize It feature… Customize your choices by swapping, upgrading, or doubling the recipe protein.” NAD determined that, as presented, Home Chef’s claims overstate the extent and amount of customization it offers.  Thus, NAD recommended that Home Chef modify its “logged-out” web pages’ monadic claims describing its Customize It feature to more narrowly tailor these claims—prior to the customer signing up for Home Chef meal kit service—to more accurately inform and make clear to these as-yet unsubscribed customers that (1) this feature is limited to select meals bearing the Customize It badge; (2) Home Chef, in the first instance determines which option(s) will be presented (and not the customer); and (3) that it is from these options that the customer may select one as her customization (and no more than one).

Additionally, NAD recommended that in its description of the Customize It feature, Home Chef alert the logged-out customer, upfront and prior to signing up, as to the extent and amount of customization it offers. For example, based on the evidence, NAD recommended that with respect to the option of “doubling the protein,” the advertiser modify its claim with qualifying language to reflect the limited availability of this option and that particular options (i.e., upgrades, doubling”) come with an attendant increase in price.

Next, NAD addressed the reasonable consumer takeaway from the language used in the various incarnations of Home Chef’s “more choices” “more flexibility” advertising claims, such as “With up to 26 weekly options with Customize it, that’s more choices than Blue Apron and HelloFresh are offering on next week’s menu for their best-selling meal plans. Get more variety with Home Chef,” and “Home Chef up to 26 choices with customize it vs. HelloFresh 18 choices.” NAD determined that, in the comparative numeric context presented, consumers will reasonably interpret “choice” as a distinct “recipe” or “meal” and that certainly one of the messages reasonably conveyed by the advertiser’s comparative count is that Home Chef offers customers more “recipes” (a larger variety of different meals) during a particular time period than HelloFresh. While NAD concluded that switching out the protein (the main component of any meal) in a particular “Customize It” meal can accurately be described as creating a different “recipe,” NAD determined that the options of “doubling” or “upgrading” of protein, and an “add-on” such a smoothie or fruit does not inherently change the underlying recipe (or meal) in any appreciable manner.

Therefore, NAD recommended that any comparative numeric “More Choices” claims remove from the tally (1) the options of “doubling” or “upgrading” of protein; (2) add-ons of either party, and more narrowly and accurately limit the comparative numbers to the parties “base” meals (recipes), including lunches, and those “Customize It” options where Home Chef offers customers the option of switching out the protein. NAD further recommended that any comparative claim concerning the number of meal (recipe) offerings or choices, clearly and conspicuously disclose in the main claim that the comparison is to the challenger’s “Classic Plan” and is based on a weekly comparison to the number of recipes offered under that plan.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim, “18 New Choices Each Week” as well as the claim,” New Meals each week” in the context presented (referencing Home Chef’s ever-changing line-up of tasty meals). NAD noted that although the advertiser never repeats a meal choice from week to week, this is not the same as offering “18 New Choices Each Week” - an express quantified claim about the specific number of new choices offered.  Further, NAD appreciated that Home Chef offers at least one meal choice each week that it had never offered before and waits approximately 18 weeks before replicating an identical item, so that even a repeated item would not appear more than three times per year.  Consequently, NAD noted that nothing in NAD’s decision precludes the advertiser from touting its “ever-changing line-up of tasty meals,” that its meal plan kit’s menu is dynamic and offers “weekly recipe rotations for all skill levels and dietary preference,” or that that it offers at least one new meal choice each week (provided that continues to be the case).

With regard to Home Chef’s “Rated #1 in Customer Satisfaction” claims, NAD recommended that they be modified to make clear that this claim is based solely on a customer satisfaction survey of Home Chef customers’ experiences with the advertiser’s service and avoid the implication that customer satisfaction was directly measured and compared between the parties’ respective services. NAD also recommended that the advertiser avoid the implication that the ratings received by Home Chef customers are premised upon the objective performance measures (i.e., variety, flexibility, or value) enunciated immediately following the claim.

Finally, the advertiser represented in writing that it permanently discontinued the challenged express claims, “Don’t settle for HelloFresh,” “Home Chef 15 min easy prep meals, 5 min no-cook lunches, smoothies[;] HelloFresh?”, “Home Chef #1 2018 & 2017[;] HelloFresh?” as well as Trustpilot claims that “Home Chef is the highest-rated meal kit on Trustpilot, leaving other meal kits in the stardust,” “#1 Meal Kit,” and “Home Chef is the highest-rated meal kit on Trustpilot, leaving HelloFresh in the stardust.” NAD, relying on Home Chef’s representations that the claims have been permanently discontinued, did not review the claims on their merits. The voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply. Further, NAD noted that insofar as the challenger alleged that certain false and/or disparaging claims were reasonably conveyed by the permanently discontinued express claims, NAD concluded that the dispute as to these implied claims has been rendered “moot” and did not review these claims on their merits.

In its advertiser’s statement, Home Chef stated that it “agrees to comply with the NAD’s recommendations.”

###

About the National Advertising Division: National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. The programs were formerly administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. BBB NP is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.