Instacart’s reportedly thriving ahead of an anticipated IPO, but growth may be more in ads than avos

Friday, March 3, 2023 by Snacks

Emergency hummus delivery… for when you just need to buy the dip. Instacart is America’s grocery-delivery leader, followed by DoorDash and Uber Eats. Unlike its rivals, Instacart is private, so it doesn’t publicly report its earnings. But ahead of its anticipated IPO this year, The Wall Street Journal got its hands on some numbers.

  • Full carts: Instacart’s quarterly sales jumped 50% from last year, while profit surged 80%, according to WSJ’s “people familiar with the matter” (#PFWTM).

  • Clear aisles: Instacart’s sales jumped 39% to $2.5B last year, even as order volume growth slowed from lockdown-era highs.

  • Not just groceries: Instacart has delivery partnerships with retailers like Best Buy, Sephora, Staples, and Walgreens.

It’s less about avocados… and more about ads. While the grocery-ordering boom slowed from its pandemic peak, Instacart prospered from its push into advertising. Think: in-app ads for Pepsi, Bud Light, and Cheerios. For example, you search “chicken” on Instacart and get a sponsored listing for Applegate chicken strips at the top of your page. Instacart’s ad products reportedly generate a 15%+ sales boost for brands on the platform.

  • Secret ingredient? Instacart is one of the “sneaky advertisers” like Uber, Kroger, and CVS, which have leveraged their trove of customer data to sell targeted ads.

  • Silent come-up: When it comes to digital marketing, the focus has been on ad-reliant tech titans like Google and Meta. That could be changing….


It pays to be the destination… Unlike Facebook, Google, and Twitter, Instacart is a shopping destination. You might scroll past a Pepsi ad on Instagram, but you’re less likely to scroll past a Pepsi ad on Instacart that appears after you searched “soda.” People come to platforms like Instacart, Amazon, and Kroger with the intention of shopping. That makes ad space on these platforms highly valuable for marketers.

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