Deep Dive: Instacart


Cherishing Traditions & Small Moments

In November, Instacart, an online grocery platform, uncovered its very first brand campaign that highlighted how food brings people together with small but special moments that convey love and care. The campaign is called “How Homemade is Made” and includes a 60-second advertisement that centers around a man’s affection for his mothers cooking, capturing the love and joy that comes from a favorite family recipe.

The company seems to be placing a large amount of marketing efforts behind the new campaign which will air not only on various TV networks like ABC,CBS, and NBC, but on other platforms for online video such as paid social, influencer partnerships, programmatic ads and digital out-of-home. The campaign will also utilize QR codes available throughout the advertisement that customers can use to connect them with shoppable recipes on Instacart’s app that is displayed throughout the ad.

Instacart worked with GoodbySilverstein & Partners, GroupM, Media Monks, and TwentyFirstCenturyBrand to develop its new campaign. A campaign that comes at a crucial time where the company is transitioning into a new brand identity amid a visual refresh that reinforces their core competency; grocery delivery. Many restaurants made involuntary closures due to the pandemic, forcing many consumers to adapt and strengthen their cooking skills as they began to prepare and eat more meals at home. Many of whom, adopted grocery delivery services in order to avoid crowded stores rather than risk exposure to the virus thus driving online sales growth to $8.1 billion in October 2021. In addition to pandemic induced surges in the grocery e-commerce industry, I believe the rapid popularization of Tiktok and social media trends also played a role in helping more and more people rediscover the joy of cooking at home by trying new food trends found online such as Gigi Hadid’s viral spicy pasta recipe. Hence, it makes sense for the platform to be launching its campaign on various video platforms and partnering with influencers to expand its reach.

The grocery delivery service has also undergone some major changes in its leadership with the recent hire of Facebook’s former ad chief, Carolyn Everson as its new president. The company also appointed two other senior hires within its advertising business indicating that the company is looking to bolster its marketing efforts rather quickly. In August, Instacart stated its advertising business is projected to be the company’s fastest-growing unit having worked with over 2,500 CPG brands, and is on track to become one of the world’s largest online grocery ad platforms. With the uptick in their advertising business through acquiring some formidable marketing hires, it will be interesting to see how Instacart plans to deal with the ever-expanding competition in the grocery delivery industry such as AmazonFresh and Shipt. Instacart will have to find a major sustainable advantage to keep them ahead in the industry as more and more grocery stores implement their own grocery delivery services as well.

In the past, Instacart has demonstrated an alignment with individual brands by focusing on boosting its connections through advertising black-owned brands and building relationships with those brands. This focus from Instacart enabled these black-owned CPGs to acquire prominent ad placement on the Instacart app and gave eligible companies ad credits to allow for higher visibility. It also created resources for these brands to learn how to maximize their ad campaign’s impact. To me these efforts enhanced Instacart’s credibility and brand image as an industry leader, advocating for smaller businesses helped Instacart build connections with both consumers and communities. I think this was a very smart move that had a positive impact on Instacart and its outreach and has the potential to further spark more future partnerships with other small businesses and not just larger corporations. Although Instacart does also partner with larger companies such as Campbell Soup as well. This particular partnership enables the delivery of ingredients for side dishes gone awry as the Campbell’s Dinner Insurance looked to aid inexperienced cooks tackling the Thanksgiving holiday that was upended by the pandemic. I think the company already made a good start with their past focus on bolstering the presence of black-owned businesses on their mobile app, but it makes me curious as to whether they will consider acquisitions as a potential future market growth strategy with the abundance of smaller competitors. 

Overall, I think their current marketing campaign “How Homemade is Made” will be largely successful in connecting with consumers on an emotional level as many have been stuck at home during this pandemic and have not seen family or friends for an extended period. The timing of the campaign’s release so close to the holiday season further emphasizes that emotional aspect as people will already be thinking of their families and can relate to having a favorite family recipe during a time most would typically be getting together.