Based in Los Angeles, California, Thrive Market launched on November 3, 2014 as an online membership service for non-perishable, healthy food, personal care and home products from 400 brands such as Weleda, Dr. Bronner’s, Spectrum, Garden of Eatin’, Bob’s Red Mill, Nature’s Path, Eden Foods, Annie’s Homegrown, Earth’s Best, Seventh Generation, Garden of Life and Jason Naturals.
Ordering and shipping of everyday sizes of certified organic, non-GMO, healthy essentials at discounted prices is designed to meet the objective of “wholesome products, wholesale prices.”
About the service
New users can connect in one click via Facebook or create a new account. The first thing you may see is an offer of $30 cash to introduce your friends to the service. The second thing is a welcome email containing a promo code, typically for 25 percent off your first order. In addition, ThriveMarket.com offers new users one month’s membership. Free shipping is always provided for orders over $49.
You may be nodding your head in agreement upon reading the Thrive Market mission statement, which recognizes that all too often, healthy choices are the costlier choice. “Our mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone,” says Thrive Market. Furthermore, the Thrive Market mission is to democratize access to these wholesome products, pledging one free membership for a low-income American family for every paid membership at $59.95 annually.
Thrive Market indicates that they work with a network of charitable giving partners – Boys and Girls Club of America, the Environmental Media Association, and LA Fund – to help distribute these memberships and to democratize access to these healthy foods and goods. (Perhaps in future they will mention whether membership fees are tax-deductible.)
Thrive Market has struck a chord. Seven months into the operation, their Facebook page, where recipes and healthy living suggestions are posted, has gathered 88,000 likes and 31,000 followers on Instagram. The co-founders say there was no service similar to Thrive Market, so perhaps the closest competitor is Amazon Prime.
How the service works
The emphasis is on natural, non-GMO, non-toxic brands at wholesale prices. Look over the categories: raw, paleo, vegan, healthy moms, gluten free and staples for healthy and wholesome products for a wide range of items. In addition to food, look through bath & body, beauty, health, baby & kids and home goods.
A further breakdown of about 90 tags helps you find items you want, but not only in the traditional grocery aisle shopping scenario. Alternatively, you can curate your cart by such labels as fair trade, female-owned businesses, cruelty-free, environmental and social issues, organic cleaning products or made in America, for example.
If the brands are unfamiliar to you, refer to the drop down list of the most popular items if you’d like to be steered toward top sellers selected by other members. Shop among 3,500 mainly non-perishable items that are bought in bulk and passed on at reasonable prices, a reflection of the Costco model, but without the emphasis on bulk sizes. Instead, the individual sizes commonly seen on grocery store, health store and pharmacy shelves are featured.
Top up an order to qualify for the free shipping minimum by checking the “20 Under $15” or the weekly featured items with a price comparison chart.
Reviews of the service
Even early adopters of Thrive Market are in their first year of membership at the time of this writing. There is widespread praise for the philanthropic nature of the model that includes donated memberships for those in need.
A number of bloggers have comparison shopped Thrive Market / Amazon Prime / Whole Foods and similar. Some have demonstrated how the Thrive Market annual membership fee of $59.95 pays for itself after a spend of about $300, based on savings over retail prices elsewhere. However, you do need to use enough of the nonperishable items stocked by Thrive Market to justify the membership fee.
Some have complained of teething problems around administration of the fee following the introductory free month offer, saying that opting out still attracted a charge.
Others point out that the delivery service is especially convenience for those not living close enough to metropolitan areas with plenty of health food stores. For urban dwellers, the service may be superfluous, at which speed of delivery needs to be weighed against potential savings on some items.
Reviews are mixed regarding speed of delivery, with California-based users citing 2-3 days and East Coast members saying nothing received for one week. To be fair, these East Coast members pointed out challenging winter conditions may have been a factor in delivery times last winter. Still, the partnership between Thrive Market and FedEx shipping does sound to be performing less than satisfactorily, with one new user complaining of a damaged in the box. Thrive Market customer service department says they are exploring best practices for shipping.