Sep 23, 2021 - Economy

Instacart's new president talks advertising, post-pandemic business

Illustration of a grocery cart with the Instacart app icon inside.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Consumers who rushed to use delivery services during the pandemic won't abandon them even though most restrictions have eased, says Instacart's new president, Carolyn Everson.

Why it matters: Instacart is rumored to be planning an IPO, though it reportedly tried to sell itself to a couple of rivals amid rumors of weakening customer demand for grocery delivery.

What they're saying: "Once a consumer gets on that digital train, they don't just jump and walk back to the station," Everson says. "And their expectations increase."

  • She points out that the company has been adding delivery from other types of retailers and rolling out addition options to fill out more use cases.

Instacart Thursday also published a report that it commissioned finding that since 2013 it has created more than 186,000 grocery jobs and helped increase U.S. grocers’ revenue by $6.4 billion.

  • Asked about a current boycott campaign by some Instacart delivery workers for better working conditions, Everson told Axios the company's recent worker sentiment ratings were the highest in the company's history. Still, even an individual's negative feedback is important, she added.

The big picture: Instacart is simultaneously working to expand its advertising business.

  • That was one key reason for Everson's hiring; she previously oversaw relationships with advertisers and ad agencies at Facebook.
  • Instacart's rivals and peers are also in the ad business now.
  • "For the most part, our [consumer packaged goods] advertisers are using us for performance advertising... we're just scratching the surface," she says, adding that the company will be creating new ways for CPG brands to advertise to its consumers, as well as expanding the categories of advertisers it works with over time.
  • "The other piece of the puzzle... is that our advertising is about lowering the cost to the consumer for delivery," she adds. "We're not just doing the ad business just to do the ad business." (Food delivery has notoriously thin margins, especially for third-party providers like Instacart.)

The intrigue: While ultra-fast grocery delivery services — which operate their own warehouses located throughout dense cities — have boomed recently, Everson says that Instacart has no plans to became a retailer itself.

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