Can Instacart transform from a transactional to an inspirational shopping platform?
Instacart has retained Grammy winner Lizzo as the face of its biggest brand campaign to date to introduce Carts, an in-app experience that will enable pop culture personalities, retailers and online creators to share shoppable, curated content.
The shopping and delivery platform’s app users can view and be inspired to purchase a grocery list of Lizzo’s favorite items, including vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Impossible Burgers and Takis hot lime tortilla chips.
Instacart has released a 30-second spot, “The World is Your Cart,” to mark Carts’ launch. It debuted following the singer’s performance during Sunday’s 2022 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). The company ran a full-page center spread advertisement featuring Lizzo in Sunday’s New York Times.
Beyond Lizzo, Cart will eventually feature similar favorite foods lists from influencers, including The Old Gays, and retail partners, in addition to themed lists such as Self Care Sunday, Late Night Noms and Date Night. Brands selling on Instacart can support online discovery through Brand Pages, Shoppable Display and Shoppable Video ad formats.
The shoppable feeds aim to replicate the discovery experience of scrolling on Instagram.
“We’re thinking about how we go from being a transactional to an inspirational platform,” Laura Jones, Instacart’s chief marketing officer, told Advertising Age.
Daniel Danker, Instacart’s chief product officer, believes that, while in-store browsing traditionally drives grocery discovery, online shopping holds the advantage of being able to showcase new items each time a customer opens their app and personalized feeds. He told Quartz, “If we can bring that joy of discovery that happens in the real world, if you will, today, and join it with a personalized experience, we’re actually able to do something very different than what has been done so far.”
Outside the app, to help drive direct traffic to its site, Instacart launched Instacart Tastemakers, an affiliate network that allows creators and publishers to monetize their content through links to the platform from recipes on TikTok and online publications. The Wall Street Journal reported that accelerated growth in the second quarter has the delivery platform aiming to complete its initial public offering this year.
- Instacart Launches New In-App Experiences and Brand Campaign Featuring Lizzo and Her New Song “The Sign,” Ushering in a New Era of Shopping Inspiration – Instacart/PRNewswire
- The World is Your Cart: How Instacart and Lizzo are Ushering in a New Era of Shopping Inspiration – Instacart
- Instacart wants everybody to shop like Lizzo – Winsight Grocery
- Instacart’s Biggest Brand Campaign Features Lizzo’s Grocery Order – Advertising Age
- Instacart is enlisting celebrities and influencers to make your shopping list — in case that’s helpful – The Verge
- Instacart will now be a destination for influencers like Lizzo – Quartz
- Instacart Aims to Go Public Before Year’s End, Defying a Frozen IPO Market – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Instacart’s Carts in-app feature and the potential for grocery discovery online? How can Instacart transform from a “transactional to an inspirational platform”?
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19 Comments on "Can Instacart transform from a transactional to an inspirational shopping platform?"
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Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T
I absolutely love everything about this. “Carts” is an initiative that recognizes that consumers use Instacart differently from how they buy groceries in stores. This feature makes the platform a destination and acknowledges that it’s positioned more similarly to social media than it is to traditional online grocery shopping. Clearly consumer insights research informed this effort, and I feel strongly that other more transactional platforms would benefit from this type of creativity.
Industry Consulting, Retail, CPG and Hospitality
Moving from transaction to inspiration is a noble idea and incredibly hard to pull off, but with Instacart’s cash and creativity, they could do it. Who wouldn’t want a unique experience every time you open up the app, informing you of cool new offers and interesting food items, recipes and educational food videos? I like it!
Professor, International Business, Guizhou University of Finance & Economics and University of Sanya, China.
I wouldn’t want a unique experience every time I open the app.
This is not the first time we have seen companies using celebrities to sell products they would use. It will depend on whether it can gain traction on social media. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
B2B Content Strategist
Instacart’s blend of e-commerce and entertainment advances social shopping. In-app entertainment seamlessly connects consumers with products trusted by top influencers, shortening the path to purchase.
E-commerce keeps evolving toward social commerce to reach shoppers where they spend their time. Instacart’s exciting in-app arena will inspire more retailers, consumers and digital marketers to embrace vibrant, targeted content.
Principal, Retail Creative and Consulting Agency
Kudos to Instacart for its excellent marketing – this is fresh and current and definitely a standout.
There are many innovations that Instacart can add to the shopping equation. However my sense is that their business model and pricing create adoption resistance for many stores and shoppers. One of the biggest impediments to growth for tech firms is changing from a model that generates great profits to a different model that eviscerates the old model but generates better traction and greater profits.
Retail Industry Strategy, Esri
The ad is fantastic. I’m not as bullish about the future of Instacart however. Retailers are getting better and better at providing similar services, especially at Tier One. I expect a continuance of Instacart’s decline in market share as retailers incent their customers to move on to their platforms with better deals.
President, Rubinson Partners, Inc.
Yes! what they are doing is elevating a transactional offering that was fueled by COVID-19 into something much, much bigger. Online for CPG is on the cusp of exploding and Instacart (a name they might want to also elevate, BTW) is helping to make it happen.
Strategy & Operations Transformation Leader
There are distinctive paths to purchase via digital platforms such as Instacart vs. the in-store shopping experience. With what has proven to be a resilient and adaptive transactional-based shopping experience during the pandemic, Instacart is leading the way to evolving into more of an experiential journey.
Too often, the online grocery shopping experience has been about efficiency and driving the transaction. However with social selling and influencer integration, the art of discovery is an untapped area of opportunity for Instacart and its grocery partners. This is the vibe and experiences the grocery industry needs to ignite the art of discovery across digital and physical channels.
Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC
Three words come to mind: Keep it simple! What is Instacart known for? That’s the lane they should stay in. Three more words: easy, intuitive, and familiar. That’s the experience customers should have when they use the app or website. I’m all for changes, but careful consideration should be taken regarding how big the changes are and how quick they take place. All that said, if Instacart can create a personalized experience that doesn’t detract from an easy, familiar, and intuitive experience, go for it!
Retail Strategy - UST Global
Who owns the customer experience anyways? I think as Instacart moves further into direct customer relationships, its patrons (larger retailers) are more likely to move them aside by managing the online experience more directly, and making Instacart a delivery choice button during checkout. Instacart provided the shopping experience that grocers (and others) couldn’t develop fast enough during the pandemic. I’m not sure they will hold onto to this aspect of shopping that much longer.
This smacks of desperation. That makes me wonder if there a real business case for Instacart to exist in its current form. My guess is that once again a good niche business has convinced investors they can be a massive win.
There is serious value in home delivery for a niche market. That market will pay an appropriate premium price for the luxury of delivery. If a vendor embraces this approach, there’s a fine business to be had. The rest are going to be throwing Hail Mary passes which bounce on the turf with moves like this.
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
Compelling content that is continually changing and personalized can definitely catch consumers attention. The challenge for Instacart is whether their retail partners will continue to outsource the direct customer touch-point to them.
Principal, Clearbrand CX
A bold move by Instacart, because Carts appears to go further towards owning the brand and customer experience, which their retailers have traditionally earned, owned.
If Instacart makes headway here, getting closer to shoppers, at what point do retailers find themselves conflicted? When a customer thinks of buying groceries to meal plan, to stock up, to be inspired and led, should they think of a grocery store, or more emerging players and intermediaries?
Vice President, Research at IDC
Instacart has a smart group of execs running it and they understand the customer. A good move toward moving towards the social side of things, but they need to offer community rather than celebrity to really build success in the space. I’m looking forward to their next set of innovations that can inspire-but it will take smaller steps before it can race like it has in online commerce.
Retail and Customer Experience Expert
Interesting approach. Clearly designed to reposition from transactional to destination/entertainment/shopping. I do wonder given the large number of social media entertainment apps that are already battling for eyeballs to convert to commerce (IG, TikTok, etc). Will users treat Carts as an entertainment source that leads to transaction, or find the entertainment distracting to actual purposeful transacting? Only customers will tell.
CEO, President- American Retail Consultants
Why does Instacart seek to slow down their purchasing platform for the user rather than provide acceleration and guidance to decrease transactional shopping time? When consumers are in the store, they are confronted by multiple brands, messaging, and on-shelf promotions already. Trying to add to this confusing messaging with their own shopping messaging will only add to more messaging noise in an already crowded space.
Founder & CEO, HotWax Commerce
Instacart’s shift from “transactional to an inspirational platform” seems quite promising. I believe one of the main challenges that customers have while buying is product discovery. But with Instacart’s initiative, customers will be able to easily identify the right products. Additionally, celebrities and creators evidently create a FOMO appeal in customers’ minds. Therefore, people will be inspired to make quicker purchase decisions. So, Instacart is clearly on the right track with its new plan and, in my opinion, success is guaranteed.