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HelloFresh Thought People Wanted Beautiful Food. They Didn't. After realizing its brand positioning wasn't resonating with customers, the company decided to mess things up a bit.

By Jason Feifer

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


In a photo studio in Manhattan this summer, a prop stylist carefully places toys on a platform. It's meant to be a playful scene, part of a shoot of family-friendly meals for the meal-delivery startup HelloFresh. But the company's associate graphic designer, May Parsey, notices a problem. "Is there a way to flip some of them upside down?" she says, and points to a collection of toys. There's a little plastic flamingo, a miniature tuba and some playing cards, all facing up in a neat arrangement. "Because if a child were playing with these things, some of them would end up upside down."

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It isn't the only thing Parsey is here to tussle. When the food is plated and put next to the toys, she'll find ways to mess that up, too. That's because HelloFresh has come to an important realization that all companies must in some way embrace: There can be a big gap between how a company talks to its customers and how customers want to be talked to. HelloFresh was once on the wrong side of that -- portraying meals that didn't reflect its customers' reality. "It's easier to make food look as nice as possible," Parsey says, as two cooks prepare today's meals nearby, "but then we have to remember that Barbara in Kansas has five kids, and she isn't wiping down the plate before serving."

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