Grocery delivery is here to stay, but a battle among the major players is still brewing. With countless retailers launching e-commerce services nearly every day, the challenge is no longer about offering convenience but rather the best digital shopping experience. And Instacart believes cats just might be the answer.
The San Francisco-based company recently unveiled its latest marketing initiative, Instacat, a new Google Chrome extension that allows desktop users to “play with cats while you grocery shop.” Instacart customers who download the extension will be greeted by a playful virtual cat on their screens, designed in partnership with creative agency MSCHF, to engage visitors and liven the digital shopping experience.
With hopes of going viral on social media, Instacat serves as tool to generate brand awareness, connect with existing customers and encourage new user trial. The extension will be available for roughly two weeks, according to an Instacart spokesperson, but could be extended depending on customer feedback and activity level.
“We want our marketing to be so good that people engage, tell their friends about Instacart and continue to love purchasing groceries through Instacart,” a company spokesperson told WGB. “Instacat is a step in that direction.”
Instacart is not the first to leverage consumers’ affection for furry friends to generate brand awareness. Animal-themed browser extensions have become a popular tool for digital companies—such as MetaMask, which features an interactive fox on its website year-round—to connect with consumers in a fun and engaging way.
“When it comes to checking off a to-do item like grocery shopping, why not provide some fun and entertainment in addition to the convenience of getting it done online?” says an Instacart spokesperson.
The company says customer feedback so far has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Instacart has grown rapidly since its launch in 2012, inking partnerships with seven of the eight top North American grocers—including Albertsons Cos., Kroger, Ahold Delhaize, Publix and Loblaw—as well as its recently expanded partnerships with Supervalu and Publix announced earlier this week.
Yet, as demand for e-commerce continues to rise, retailers such as Kroger are beginning to invest in alternative services. And with the recent news of Amazon expanding Whole Foods delivery via Prime Now, Instacart aims to differentiate with an exciting digital shopping experience.
The company recently raised another $350 million in Series E financing, bringing its valuation to $4.35 billion. Instacart has raised more than $1 billion since its founding, and said it plans to make grocery delivery available to 90 million households by the end of 2018.