If you’re looking for a convenient online grocer that supplies high-quality goods at discount prices, then Thrive Market may be just what the doctor ordered.
We decided to try the service during the height of the pandemic, and still use it to purchase organic pantry staples, healthy snacks, body care essentials, and more.
The catch is that Thrive charges a membership fee. Is it worth it?
In this Thrive Market review, we answer that burning question. You’ll also learn what the grocer offers, the best items to purchase, its strengths and weaknesses, and answers to other common questions. We’ll wrap things up with our exclusive Thrive Market money savings tips, based on real-world experience and price comparisons of over 100 products.
- What is Thrive Market?
- How much does a Thrive Membership cost?
- How does Thrive Market work?
- Thrive Market brands
- Thrive Market shipping and delivery
- Does Thrive Market save you money?
- Other ways to save money at Thrive Market
- Best items to buy at Thrive Market
- What items shouldn’t you buy at Thrive Market?
- Is Thrive Market worth it?
- Thrive Market pitfalls
- Tips for getting the most out of Thrive Market
- Thrive Market FAQ
What is Thrive Market?
Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic and natural food. It also dips into other non-grocery categories like bath & body, supplements, and household items. As of 2022, its product line consists of an astounding 5,000+ items.
Thrive has been around since 2014, and currently has over 1 million members. Its app is among the highest rated in its class: 4.9/5.0 on the App Store, and 4.8/5.0 on Google Play, and it’s rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau.
Sounds like a pretty legit and successful business. So what’s its secret?
Thrive Market is best described as a cross between Whole Foods and Costco, but totally online. It carries many of the same brands as Whole Foods like Kettle & Fire, Bob’s Red Mill, Simple Mills, and Primal Kitchen, as well as its own Thrive Market brand. Thrive’s groceries cater to about a dozen different diets, including Whole30, Ketogenic, and low FODMAP, much like WF.
It also charges a monthly/annual membership fee and places a heavy emphasis on bulk purchases, hence the Costco comparison. In exchange for this fee, Thrive Market offers goods at up to 30% below retail prices (or at least that’s the claim), as well as member-exclusive coupons, time-limited discounts, free gifts, and other ways to save.
How much does a Thrive Membership cost?
A Thrive Market Membership will set you back $60 per year if paid annually (we paid $63.92 after taxes), or $12 per month (up recently from $9.95).
From the detective’s desk: If you’re thinking there’s a pretty big discrepancy between the cost of a monthly and annual membership, you’re right. On a yearly basis, the monthly plan costs $144 — 2.4x more than the annual plan. If you plan to use Thrive with any frequency, the annual plan is a much better bargain.
Annual memberships also come with a few other perks, not included with monthly plans:
- A free gift valued up to $52, pending your first order is at least $25.
- 40% off your first grocery order, up to a $30 maximum.
- Thrive will gift a free annual membership to a student, teacher, veteran, first responder, nurse, or family in need through its Thrive Gives program.
If it’s not apparent by now, Thrive Market is really big on building brand loyalty. Annual members just get it so much better!
Does Thrive offer a free trial?
Not exactly. Thrive Market has replaced its 30-day free trial with a 30-day risk-free period for new annual members.
The main difference is that now you’ll have to pay the $60 annual fee upfront. Admittedly, this caveat does bump the appeal of the offer down a notch.
However, if you don’t wish to continue, you can always contact Thrive within 30 days of starting your membership and receive a full refund.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, click here to start your Thrive Market membership.
How does Thrive Market work?
Thrive Market is able to offer discount prices because it isn’t burdened by the costs associated with running a retail operation. In addition, the fees allow Thrive to cut out the middleman, so to speak, and pass the savings to customers.
To sign up for Thrive Market, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Choose a free gift
- Take a short quiz about your shopping habits and dietary needs
- Pick a monthly (not advised) or annual membership plan, and pay for it with either PayPal or a credit/debit card
- Start building your first order
The Thrive Market app can feel a bit intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll feel thankful that it provides so many filters. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Pick the right filtering system for you: Thrive allows you to filter items by Aisles, Diets, and Brands. If you’re looking for a specific category, like snacks or frozen foods, then the Aisles filter is your best friend. On the other hand, if you have specific dietary needs, it makes more sense to filter by Diets. Absolutely adore the Thrive Market Brand? It’s listed right at the top of the Brands section.
- Find your favorites fast: Returning customers can quickly find items they previously purchased under the “Buy it Again” section on the app’s homepage.
- Shop Deals: Thrive has an entire section dedicated to deals, where you can earn cash back (in the form of Thrive Cash) on your purchases. Like the main site, the “Deals” section can be filtered by category.
- Start a shopping list: Thrive allows you to store shopping lists for future use. Just click/tap the “Account” icon, and select “Shopping Lists” to start a new list. You can store multiple lists.
Within each filter, there are more filters, and sometimes, even more, allowing you to really drill down. You can also use the search bar to find specific products.
Once you find an item you like, you’ll have three options:
- Add it to your cart.
- Add it to a shopping list (The little heart sign)
- Have the item Autoship. For this, you’ll need to choose a ship date, and a shipping frequency (every 4 weeks, 8 weeks, etc.).
Autoship is a great feature, perfectly suited for customers that buy the same products on a recurring basis. Not only does it allow you to schedule shipments ahead of time, but you’ll often save an additional 5-10% on auto shipped products.
You can unsubscribe a product from Autoship at any time.
Thrive Market brands
Thrive Market serves up hundreds of brands, many of which will be familiar to Whole Foods shoppers.
Some of our favorites include:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Kettle & Fire
- Simple Mills
- Primal Kitchen
- Seventh Generation
- Late July
View the full list here.
Thrive also has launched its own Thrive Market Brand. These products are generally a bit cheaper than equivalent items supplied to Thrive by third parties.
However, Thrive Market Brand tends to be more expensive than other store brands, like Whole Foods 365 or Walmart Great Value. But the upside, at least in our opinion, is that the quality is higher and the packaging is excellent.
Thrive Market shipping and delivery
When placing a grocery order, we’ve never had to wait more than two business days for a delivery. Although, depending on where you live and what you order, it could take as many as five days.
Grocery orders ship seven days a week, but frozen orders only ship Mon. – Wed., while wine orders ship every day but Sunday.
Thrive Market currently ships to the lower 48 U.S. states, with plans on expanding to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Overall, we have been very pleased with the shipments. Our items were placed in a rugged yet efficiently designed box and compartmentalized in such a way that no items were broken or crushed. It’s also nice to know that Thrive uses 100% recyclable packaging — yes, even the tape is recyclable.
Thrive ships for free as long as you spend a certain amount:
- Grocery: Free shipping on orders $49+, otherwise $5.95
- Frozen: Free shipping on orders $120+, otherwise $19.95
- Wine: Free shipping on orders $79+, otherwise $13.95
From the detective’s desk: If you mix and match items from the grocery, frozen, and wine categories, you’ll need to spend the minimum in each category to qualify for free shipping. For instance, spending $50 on groceries and $100 on frozen would only qualify you for free shipping on groceries, even though your order total is $150.
By comparison, Whole Foods offers 2-hour window delivery services for $9.99, regardless of order size. This is frankly outrageous.
Walmart offers free shipping next-day shipping on orders over $35, but only on eligible items. Non-eligible purchases over $35 also ship for free but take 3-5 business days. If the purchase is less than $35, the delivery fee is $5.99.
Does Thrive Market save you money?
Thrive Market wins points for its stellar selection of organic, non-GMO goods, its frequent discounts, its well-designed app, and fast shipping times. That’s all well and good, but does it also offer competitive pricing.
We sought to find out.
Here is our methodology.
- Thrive Market’s product line most closely resembles Whole Foods, so we thought it best to use WF as a comparison point.
- We price compared over 100 products across 10 different categories, including snacks, condiments & sauces, oil & vinegar, nut butter, grains, and more.
- We also looked at our own receipts over a rolling 6-month period and compared those prices as well.
- Nearly 80% of our comparisons are exact matches. The other 20% are Thrive Brand Market goods, which we compared to equivalent Whole Foods 365 items.
Overall, we found that Thrive Market members save an average of 8.5% over the same items sold at Whole Foods.
For some categories, the savings were even greater. Here’s a breakdown:
Thrive Market vs. Whole Foods (Price comparison)
|Aisle||Thrive Market Savings (%)|
|Ghee, Oil & Vinegar||13.67%|
|Grains, Pasta & Bread||12.95%|
|Condiments & Sauces||11.86%|
|Nut Butters & Fruit Spreads||8.16%|
|Soups, Meals & Side Dishes||1.88%|
*Frozen refers to the frozen foods aisle, not the Meat & Seafood category.
We were pleasantly surprised at just how much money we were saving on pantry goods and snacks at Thrive. The lone area where Thrive didn’t excel is the frozen aisle, where its prices were roughly the same as Whole Foods.
On the flip side, Thrive Market Brand products were, on average, 10-20% more than equivalent Whole Foods 365 items (but still cheaper than third-party brands). However, it’s not a perfect comparison, as most Thrive Brand items were of superior taste and quality, but it’s still something shoppers will want to consider.
Thrive Market prices compared to other stores
It’s much more difficult to compare Thrive Market to other stores because there’s not much (if any) direct overlap with their product lines.
Here’s a general overview based on our personal experience:
Thrive Market vs. Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s only offers its own branded products, and its prices are right about on par with Thrive’s own brand. Some items are more expensive, some are cheaper. It’s very close and will come down to a personal preference. For us, we prefer Thrive Market Brand over TJ’s for some, but not all, products. Thrive also has a bigger selection. After factoring in Thrive’s membership fee and the gas spent traveling to TJ’s, we’ll call this one a tie.
Thrive Market vs. Walmart: Both have enormous selections, but Thrive has a much greater emphasis on organic and natural products. Walmart is undoubtedly cheaper for some products, but not necessarily for its organics.
Thrive Market vs. Costco: There’s really not much of a comparison here. Both emphasize bulk orders (Costco more so), but Thrive’s quality is significantly higher. Costco has improved its selection of organic products of late, but it’s still nowhere near Thrive’s. However, Costco is more budget-friendly — there really is no beating wholesale pricing.
Other ways to save money at Thrive Market
Thrive Market is extremely aggressive with its marketing. There’s a strong emphasis on brand loyalty, and this results in tons of opportunities for members to reap additional savings.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that you will receive a coupon in your inbox or via text nearly every day.
These offers vary in quality, and some of them won’t suit your individual needs. Others are awesome, and push the savings you’ll generate by shopping at Thrive well beyond the competition.
Generally speaking, Thrive Market coupons fall into one of three buckets:
- Discount on a specific category: Examples include a limited time 20% discount on wine purchases or 25% off on select condiments. These tend to be the least valuable coupons because they’re so specific.
- Free gift offers: Thrive may entice you with a free gift included with your next purchase. Some of these gifts are worth over $30, and you only need to spend $49 to claim them. Occasionally, Thrive will send you a combination coupon where you get a free gift and a % off select items.
- Discounts on your entire order: These don’t show up as often, but they’re the best. You may receive 20% or even 30% off your next offer, regardless of what you purchase. These coupons are usually capped at around $20 off, and sometimes also include a free gift.
This was our offer on the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend. An amazing find.
If you regularly purchase the same items, then definitely consider using the Autoship feature.
Not only is it convenient, but auto shipped items are usually discounted. In our survey of over 100 Thrive Market items, nearly 66% of them offered an Autoship discount — 21% offered a 5% discount, and 45% offered a 10% discount.
You can unsubscribe an item from auto-shipments at any time.
Buying in bulk
If you buy several of the same items, then you’ll receive a small discount. For instance, Thrive Market gives us 5% off on Dr. Bronner’s Soap, as long as we purchase 4+ in the same order.
Just another way to stack savings.
Unlike close competitor Trader Joe’s, Thrive Market is happy to offer sales. These sale items, called Deals, rotate regularly and the markdowns are usually between 5% and 10%.
However, Thrive doesn’t directly discount its Deals. Instead, you’ll have to purchase the item at the listed price, and you’ll receive Thrive Cash, which will be applied to your next order.
Thrive Cash is obviously designed as a customer retention tactic. Otherwise, Thrive would simply offer cash discounts. But it’s something, and combined with all the other ways you can save, you can really put a dent in your annual grocery bill.
Best items to buy at Thrive Market
Many items at Thrive offer shoppers that rare combination of quality and low pricing. While there’s not enough room to list all the grocer’s best items, here are some of our picks:
- Kettle Brand Habanero Lime Krinkle Cut Kettle Chips, 5 oz.: $3.09 at Thrive, $3.39 at Whole Foods (8.85% savings)
- Pipcorn, Heirloom Cheddar Cheese Balls: $3.79 at Thrive, $4.49 at Whole Foods (15.59% savings)
- Love Corn, Corn Snack Sea Salt, 4 oz.: $3.29 at Thrive, $3.49 at Whole Foods (5.73% savings)
- Lesser Evil Himalayan Salt Chips: $3.29 at Thrive, $3.49 at Whole Foods (5.73% savings)
- Boom Chicka Pop, Sea Salt 5 oz: $3.29 at Thrive, $3.79 at Whole Foods (13.19% savings)
- Thrive Market, Organic Raw Cashews: 16 per oz: $0.84 oz at Thrive, $0.90 per oz. at Whole Foods (6.23% savings)
- HIPPEAS Organic Chickpea Puffs + Vegan White Cheddar | 4 oz.: $3.49 at Thrive, $3.99 at Whole Foods (12.53% savings)
- Primal Kitchen Tomato and Basil Sauce, 24 oz: $7.99 at Thrive, $8.29 at Whole Foods (3.62% savings)
- Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos 16.9 oz: $9.99 at Thrive Market, $13.29 at Whole Foods (20.02% savings)
- Sir Kensington’s Mayo, 12 oz: $6.99 at Thrive, $7.99 at Whole Foods (12.52% savings)
- Yai’s Thai Red Coconut Curry, 16 oz: $6.99 at Thrive, $8.39 at Whole Foods (16.69% savings)
- Artisana Organics Raw Almond Butter, 14oz | No Sugar Added: $17.99 at Thrive, $19.99 at Whole Foods (10.01% savings)
- Thrive Market, Creamy Almond Butter 16 oz: $7.99 at Thrive vs. $8.49 for Whole Foods 365 Almond Butter, Creamy 16 oz. (5.89% savings)
- Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Shelled Hemp Seed 16 oz: $9.89 at Thrive, $13.04 at Whole Foods (24.16% savings)
- Banza Pasta 8 oz: $3.99 at Thrive, $4.29 at Whole Foods (6.99% savings)
- Bob’s Red Mill, Organic Quick Cooking Oats 28 oz: $6.29 at Thrive, $10.39 at Whole Foods (39.46% savings)
- Thrive Market, Organic Black Chia Seeds 16 oz: $0.53 per oz vs. $1.00 per oz for Whole Foods 365 Chia Seed, Black Organic (46.90% savings)
- Thrive Market Organic Chicken Bone Broth 16.9 oz: $0.41 per oz vs. $0.41 per oz. for Whole Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth
- Daiya Mac and Cheese Deluxe Brands 10.6 oz: $4.79 at Thrive Market, $4.99 at Whole Foods (4.01% savings)
- Red Boat Fish Sauce 8.45 oz: $7.49 at Thrive, $8.79 at Whole Foods (14.79% savings)
- Native Forest Organic Simple Coconut Milk 13.5 oz: $2.99 at Thrive, $3.39 at Whole Foods (11.80% savings)
- Thrive Market, Organic Vanilla Extract 4 oz: $13.49 at Thrive vs. $14.79 for Whole Foods 365 Vanilla Extract 4 oz.
- Bob’s Red Mill, Paleo Baking Flour 34 oz: $0.58 per oz. vs $0.72 per oz. at Whole Foods (18.94% savings)
- Thrive Market, Organic Ghee 13.5 oz: $10.99. The closest equivalent on Whole Foods was Vital Farms Organic Ghee 7.5 oz $9.49, (35% savings)
- Bragg, Apple Cider Vinegar Raw 32 oz: $5.99 at Thrive Market, $7.39 at Whole Foods (18.94% savings)
- Aura Cacia, Organic Peppermint Essential Oil: $5.79 at Thrive, $7.19 at Whole Foods (19.47% savings)
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap Lavender: $3.86 at Thrive, $4.79 at Whole Foods (19.42% savings)
What items shouldn’t you buy at Thrive Market?
Let’s get this out of the way: There are certain essential groceries that you simply cannot purchase at Thrive. These include:
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh bread: Although Thrive does offer frozen bread products
- Regular milk: You can purchase other types of shelf-stable milk (almond, coconut, and even pistachio)
So Thrive will likely not be the only grocer where you shop.
In addition, we can’t wholeheartedly recommend that casual shoppers buy items from the frozen aisle. Thrive Market is doing a much better job with its frozen selection, but the prices are really no better than Whole Foods, and many frozen items have a two-item minimum.
Not to mention, you need to purchase a minimum of $65 of frozen goods for Thrive to even deliver them. To unlock free shipping, your frozen box has to contain $120+ worth of goods. That’s too much.
However, if you have frozen items auto shipped and buy in bulk, then it’s a different story, as you’ll save roughly 10-15%.
Meat and Seafood
Thrive has recently expanded its online store to include meat and seafood. You’ll find high-quality products like wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, grass-fed ground beef, grass-fed New York strip steaks, lamb racks, plant-based meats, and more.
However, there are a couple of issues. The meats are expensive. They’re even more expensive than some top-of-the-line meats sold by premium organic groceries.
There are also some supply issues, with some of the most appealing products frequently out of stock.
Seafood prices are more in line with what you’d expect from a premium grocer. All the fish is wild-caught, and most of them are eligible for Autoship discounts.
From the detective’s desk: Thrive also sells combination boxes, which may consist of several different types of meat and/or seafood, or just a whole lot of one type of meat. Buying these boxes is supposed to save you money, but our calculations show that the prices are about the same as if you bought each item individually.
Is Thrive Market worth it?
Thrive Market isn’t for everybody, but there’s enough going for it that some shoppers may want to consider including it in their rotation.
Thrive will be worth it if:
- You already shop at Whole Foods or a similar organic food store: Thrive carries many of the same items as WF at lower prices. It also frequently offers free gifts and discounts on purchases, which is something Whole Foods does not do. Whole Foods has better sales, and you’ll still need it for fresh fruit/vegetables/eggs and cheaper meats, but for nearly everything else, Thrive takes the crown.
- You buy more than a few items at once: Thrive Market favors shoppers that make larger purchases. You’ll need to spend $49 on food to qualify for free shipping, and you’ll receive added discounts for buying multiples of the same product.
- You love to redeem coupons and stack discounts: Thrive rewards the savvy shopper. The more you’re on the lookout for great deals, the more you’ll save. Of course, the same can be said about most grocers, but it’s especially true with Thrive. Without coupons and discounts, Thrive Market’s prices are comparable to Trader Joe’s, and maybe slightly higher. With them, the tide shifts toward Thrive.
- You have specific dietary needs, or just prefer organic, non-GMO food: There’s little denying that many food items are cheaper at Walmart, Aldi, or Target than at Thrive Market. However, if you’re in the market for specialty foods, or are on a specific diet, either by choice or necessity, then Thrive is tough to beat.
- You have friends that want to try Thrive: You’ll receive $40 Thrive Cash per referral. Refer two friends and you’ll have more than covered the annual membership fee.
From the detective’s desk: We calculated earlier that Thrive Market items are on average, 8.5% cheaper than Whole Foods. That means, even if you don’t take advantage of a single coupon or perk, you’ll have to spend about $700 at Thrive annually to break even. Claim the 40% off welcome bonus and nothing else, and that figure already drops to ~$350.
It’s also worth noting, that with gas prices being as high as they are, you will save money ordering groceries online. It may seem inconsequential, but four round trips a month to a supermarket 10 minutes away could run you $5 – $10 in gas per month.
And then there’s of course the time equity that you lose in the car.
So yes, Thrive Market is going to be worth it for a lot of people. It’s not the only place we shop, but it currently makes up a significant portion of our grocery spending.
Thrive Market pitfalls
Thrive Market has many strengths, but it’s not without its share of shortcomings. Some of these we’ve already covered, but here’s a comprehensive list of our quibbles with the grocer for your convenience:
- 2+ item minimums: This applies mostly to frozen foods, but some regular items as well. Thrive requires that you add at least 2-4 of some items to your cart. What if you just want to try something out?
- Supply issues: Thrive is getting better about keeping its items in stock, but there are still plenty of out-of-stock items.
- Pouches: Some Thrive Market Brand nut butters come in a 10 oz pouch as opposed to a 16 oz jar. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, but we prefer the jars.
- Monthly membership cost: Why is this more than double the annual cost? Shouldn’t it be at most 20-40% more? Customers shouldn’t be penalized so harshly for wanting to make a couple of purchases throughout the year.
- No produce or eggs: We’d love to see Thrive Market incorporate more perishable items into its store.
- More expensive branded products: Thrive Market Brand goods are excellent, better than any other store brand we’ve tried. They’re also more expensive, with some exceptions like certain pasta, grains, and aminos.
- Frozen box order requirements: Spending $65 on frozen foods just to unlock checkout is a lot, and the minimum $120 order price to qualify for free shipping is steep.
Tips for getting the most out of Thrive Market
With so many marketing initiatives, ways to save, and products to choose from, getting the most out of Thrive Market can be a bit challenging.
Start your journey with the following tips:
- Spend about $75 on your first order: Thrive Market offers 40% off on your first order, but it’s capped at $30. By spending a lot less or more than $75, you’ll be missing out on value.
- Sign up for text notifications: We received a special one-time discount for opting in to text notifications. You can always opt-out afterward.
- Plan ahead: Thrive Market orders take a couple of days to ship, at least. If you need something right away, you’ll be out of luck. Make a note of how long your first order takes to arrive, and plan on future orders taking at least that long.
- Don’t get roped in: Thrive throws a lot of offers your way. Ask yourself if you truly need to place an order, or if you’re just doing it for a free gift or discount on a product you don’t really need. If it’s the latter, consider waiting to place your next order. They’ll always be another coupon.
- Use a grocery credit card: If you want to generate even greater savings, make your Thrive Market purchases with a credit card that offers strong cash back rates on groceries. A good example is AmEx Blue Cash Preferred, which provides 6% cash back on your first $6,000 in grocery purchases each year.
Thrive Market FAQ
What is the Thrive Market Savings Guarantee?
If you’re an annual member and don’t save at least $60 on Thrive Market purchases, then Thrive will make up the difference, in the form of Thrive Cash.
The big caveats are:
- Monthly members aren’t eligible
- You have to renew your annual membership to receive the credit
- Your to-date savings are based on a brand’s suggested retail price or a close equivalent
Realistically, you’ll probably hit the Guarantee after a couple of orders, but it’s a nice backup to have if you sign up for a membership and completely forget about it.
How do you cancel a Thrive membership?
You can cancel your Thrive Market membership at any time by contacting a customer service agent. Use the little green chat button to get the conversation started, and be prepared for them to try and upsell you on renewing your membership.
It’s too bad there’s no way to simply cancel your membership from your Account tab.
What is the Thrive Market free gift?
With every new annual membership, you’ll earn a free gift with your first order. The free gift options tend to rotate, but some past examples include:
- A Healthy Living Cookbook + Olive Oil ($43)
- Original grass-fed beef snacks from Chomps – 10 pack ($24)
- New Chapter, Every Woman’s Daily Multivitamin – 24 count ($18)
- ACURE – Deluxe Travel Kit ($17)
You’ll need to spend $25 on your first order to receive the free gift.
Can you browse Thrive Market’s aisles without a membership?
Yes. Just to go https://thrivemarket.com/c/food to check out what Thrive Market has to offer. You can browse any aisle, use all the filters, and even check out the current Deals.